I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the biggest impediment to this England side is Roy Hodgson and he couldn’t help himself from proving it again in England’s Euro 2016 opener against Russia.
When have England ever really managed to drop deep, bring on more defensive players and hold out for the last few minutes in a game that really counted? Yet Roy thought they would…
Hodgson’s first gamble paid off, paid off in three ways. Firstly Rooney controlled himself and unlike in the warm up games didn’t get in the way of others around him, disjointing the team. Secondly it stopped Henderson from starting and thirdly it stopped Wilshere from starting.
But if this was the way Rooney was meant to slot into a deeper role for England why wasn’t this done in the pre-tournament warm ups?
But yes it worked, didn’t think it would, thought it wss another case of crowbarring in the star name at the expense of the team – the irony of Steven Gerrard warning against such things in his paper column was not lost on me.
The level of it’s effectiveness was shown when it went to pieces after Roy subbed Rooney a little under a quarter of an hour before the end. As Wilshere was brought on to run forward, lose the ball, fall over and stand there with his mouth open, his tongue out contributing nothing to getting the ball back.
Roy claims that Rooney was tired, Rooney denies this and well the Russians weren’t exactly doing much to make him run around any more. No this substitution smacked of Roy making a point: “You see, Rooney isn’t protected, I can take him off”. The post match comments of not Rooney only being a definite starter for this game smacks of this as well.
His second substitution made more sense but only in one regard. Sterling had to come off but it was far too late and it was for the wrong player.
Most things England did worked on the night. They were helped by an poor Russian performance. Rooney was given plenty of space to play, while the defence, central defenders weren’t particularly tested for most of the game. Which gave them little chance to make fools of themselves, yet Cahill still managed to be caught out and Smalling perpetual hugging of Dzyuba was like the worst episode of Come Dancing you’ll ever see.
Dier pretty much stopped anything before Cahill and Smalling could fall over and gift away a chance.
Anyway back to the thing that really didn’t work for England, Sterling. With acres of space and an ageing defence 50 million quid waste of money wasted every chance he had. Time and again when he can just run at ’em he stops and lets them get back and block him off. “Oh, I’ve got to beat someone and then try and beat them again.” When he didn’t have the ball taken off him, or just cough it up, his delivery was equally inept.
Kane had no service what’s so ever and while the others didn’t exactly provide for him Sterling was by far the worst culprit.
From very early on it was obvious to all watching that Sterling was a dud. Well, all bar Roy. With that space it was primed for Vardy from the left. Balls over the top for him to exploit and well he doesn’t hang around for the defenders to catch up.
But no Roy waits and waits and waits, while Ray Lewington sits next to him and says “Yes boss”, until a couple of minutes from the end and brings on Milner.
When the Russians have to finally do something Roy invites them to do so.
Yup, you have the ball we’ll just drop back and hope that you don’t strike lucky. A squad packed full of forwards, while being bereft – Dier apart – of defensive ability and Roy wants them to defend.
But what should we expect from a manager who has his main striker, a pretty damn good header of the ball, taking corners…
Roy this one is on you, solely…