‘I was at the game in Nice and it was beyond bad’

Match Review: England vs. Iceland, Nice, 20:00

It’s a hard to thing to write this review for the England game. As a footballing spectacle, of being in the ground, seeing this game live, it potentially being one of the great European Championship shocks, the whole event was awesome. On the flip side of all that though is trying to review an England performance that was so crap and so inept that it all makes for a little bit of a depressing read.

Take absolutely nothing away from Iceland. For however dire England were, Iceland were brilliant. They created the better chances, they proved to be more clinical and they ran and showed a bit more heart than 80% of what turned out for England on the French Riviera.

Before the barrage begins, it’s perhaps best to talk about which England players were able to leave with their heads vaguely high. Both full backs, especially Kyle Walker, have had very good tournaments and this continued to some extent against Iceland. Roy wanted the full backs to provide the width that they did, what Roy then wanted them to do once hugging the by-line like a treasured teddy is quite another question.


Love to know what was said in this group chat

Both Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill seemed dominant in the air defensively, winning header after header when Iceland went long. Could they have done more for the first goal? The jury is out but considering England fans were worried about conceding too many goals, they both had acceptable tournaments.

Out of any other player who featured against Iceland, Marcus Rashford’s directness was exactly what England needed and why he didn’t come on any sooner is anyone’s guess.

Whilst not a universal opinion, I personally thought Daniel Sturridge had a good first half.  It was clear to see that Sturridge was losing his patience at the lack of incisive passing from midfield, passes that were going to allow him to run in behind the Iceland defence, rather than the passing drill around the edge of the box that duly  unravelled.


Rooney celebrates scoring the England penalty

Now the bad stuff. Joe Hart was truly awful in the first half. At fault for the second pal, Hart later made any absolute hash of a cross that really should have been punished. Whilst he did make two good saves in the second half, it won’t be long till Jack Butland should be the no.1 shot-stopper.

Raheem Sterling, penalty aside, was shocking once more and his inclusion in the starting XI is one of the more baffling decisions in this tournament. Harry Kane was anonymous and really did fail to deliver this summer. Is it a question of tiredness? Perhaps but against Iceland it was an issue of style as much as anything else.

Now Roy Hodgson. Roy more than matched David Cameron in the ‘how fast can you quit your job when you exit Europe race?’ as he seemed to quit before the end of post-game adverts. I’m not one to call for people’s heads usually but Roy’s performance against Slovakia and Iceland is as much as an indictment of him as it is the players.


Roy making dagger eyes at someone, Sturridge isn’t having any of it

The complete lack of pace, energy was one thing but the predictability of England’s play, of static passing and a failure to deliver a final product was just truly astonishing. I was in the stadium and I can tell you that by the 75th minute, perhaps earlier, England fans knew that this game was gone and Roy continued to stand in his technical area like a man so out of his depth it was frightening. His substitutions were simply ill thought out. There wasn’t an ounce of a plan a, a plan b or a plan c. It was a Sunday League kick around with the village wino as manager.

I don’t think ever at a major international tournament I have ever seen a team get booed off by their own fans – until Monday evening. England players collapsed in front of the England (admittedly the far end stadium from me) and then the recriminations began. The booing was barely audible only due to the sheer tsunami of noise that erupted from the Iceland fans but it was there. There was no lap of honour; there was no acknowledgement of the England fans. They went down the tunnel and that was it. It was just that bad.

What next for England? Southgate and Shearer? I mean has it really come to that? Because it might have…

Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog

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