England 1-2 Iceland :
England were left to deal with a second Brexit result in the space of 3 days as this time they crashed out of the Euro’s – Iceland the team at the hands of England’s collapse, however the Three Lions seemed fazed from the offset , too many games in the premier league season?, too much pressure on youth players?… Or just failing to meet expectations.
When the draw was made for England to face the Icelandic national team; many Brits were ecstatic with the outcome! A country with the population of Leicester surely couldn’t cause any problems?
The game started positively for Roy Hodgson’s men as they won a penalty through Raheem Sterling- a player who has come under plenty of criticism during this tournament and was making a shock return to the side. It was now down to the talisman Wayne Rooney to convert. A lovely, cushioned finish drifted into the bottom left hand corner- well out of the reach out part time Icelandic goalkeeper ;Hannes Þór Halldórsson.However, England’s spirits were soon dampened ; an attack from the Iceland team saw them win a throw in located in a dangerous area; this spelled danger due to their traditional long throw in’s which looked set to cause all sorts of problems. Launching the ball into the 6 yard box the England back line stood desolate , a flick on found its way to Sigurdsson- statues having more movement than the England defence . Sigurdsson was allowed time and space and he poked the ball home , past the hopeless Joe Hart.
Worse was to come for England however. Roy Hodgson’s men went 2-1 down shorty after this as Kolbeinn Sigthorsson was allowed to dribble past two players on the edge of the box , where he then released a rather tame shot; which somehow made its way past Joe Hart- who should have done better. The Three Lions pressed onwards in search of an equaliser for the remainder of the match; but Iceland’s team spirit was too much for a very poor England side. Poor in front of goal, lack of ideas, no motivation and leadership. These phrases encapsulate the way in which they were portrayed. Another embarrassing moment for English Football; this time a round of 16 exit to a country with more volcanoes than professional players, the same population as Leicester, and a manager who is a part time dentist.
England’s downfall in major tournaments continues; with at least a quarter final place expected this EURO 2016 side disappointed hugely. With the late revolution of Jamie Vardy, talented youth in Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Marcus Rashford many tipped England to go all the way; simply not good enough. With the weight of the countries expectations on their shoulders the Three Lions were weighed down to the floor and dragged under the surface.
No will to win. As the game drew to a close and a catastrophic exit result loomed you’d think Roy Hodgson’s men would be deploying all firepower and charging forward in packs. This was not the case, passing the ball around the back, followed by poor passes and mis-controlled touches; a shambles. The whole of the squad looked particularly dismal this match, although two players which really disrupted the game were the pair that have been slated throughout the group stages; Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, who again did not perform. Kane’s lack of pace and low quality shots begged the question as to why premier league champion- Jamie Vardy, was sat on the bench? Kane’s free kick near the end of the match which was sent into orbit summed up his tournament in a nutshell. Sterling had the pace , but lacked any kind of end product and efficiency, the reoccurring theme of beating a player and then just throwing it away was starting to become disastrous. Why didn’t Hodgson change the team?
Many England fans were left frustrated by Hodgson and his lack of understanding it seems, not knowing what his strongest side is. Surely after their woeful performances so far , Sterling and Kane should not have had a look in? When losing the match, in need of a goal, who do you bring on? A striker right? No- a defensive midfielder in Jack Wilshere if you’re Roy Hodgson. These strange decisions appear to have cost England the tournament. Not only this, it has been said often that players for the 23 man squad were picked on reputation and status and not on real life form. Danny Drinkwater, a pivotal player in Leicester’s miraculous title win, left out of the squad. Jack Wilshere who hasn’t played a full 90 minutes in over a year, and Jordan Henderson similarly who has been out on the sidelines with damage to his foot for a lengthy period and a very mediocre season ; both picked for the team because they play for ” big teams” and not because they have been playing well. These decisions ended up leading to the inevitable departure of Roy Hodgson who resigned in the post match conference, and most likely would have been sacked if he didn’t resign.
Serious changes need to be made for England to ever do well in a major tournament as currently , it just isn’t working. The biggest issue for me , is team spirit. If you watch Wales who have an outstanding euro campaign , they all play for each other; they believe anything is possible , they stick together. England do not have the same capabilities, no player seems interested in playing for one another, they think they have already won the match before it has begun and don’t give the opponent a look in , and their heads go down when losing, they didn’t push for an equaliser … They sat back and passed the ball around very casually.
Huge credit is deserved in Iceland’s favour however, a side written off before the ball was kicked, who have again shown it is not about who you have ( only 1 professional played against England) but it’s more about determination to succeed and never to give up. What will the 2018 World Cup hold for England? More of the same ? Disappointment and Misery? Or Joy and jubilation ? Only time will tell, however at this moment in time; the latter option looks very unlikely.
By Tom Cavilla: 17 years old