June 3, 2016
England Starting team : Hart, Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose, Dier, Alli, Milner, Rooney, Kane, Vardy
Subs used : : Sterling for Varsdy, Lallana for Rooney, Henderson for Ali , Sturridge for Kane, , Wilshere for Milner
Well, well, well, England have played their final warm-up match before the Euros start next weekend – they were up against fellow finalists Portugal, at Wembley last night. How did it go, you might well ask? Not good, not good at all, eh?
What went wrong then, you might ponder? Well, precisely what was predicted here no less? The game provided the first signs that all Roy Hodgson’s months and months of pondering and pontificating on his squad for France has been utterly pointless.
What everyone expected of this occasion was that the manager would field his ‘first team’, so that at long last the players could strut their stuff and show-off their prowess in a full scale practice match against credible opposition.
Well, it went off like a damp squib, didn’t it, primarily because the structure was flawed and the players certainly didn’t fit the style of play? Wayne Rooney was the problem because Hodgson insisted in playing him as a striker when he isn’t one these days. His presence in the middle skewed the shape of the team and scuppered the performances of the two real, and in form, strikers Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy who then proved totally ineffective. So the promised frightening striking force of England turned out to be was a pussy cat and all three of them had dire performances, didn’t they?
There is nothing much to say about the match because the chaos up front also had a knock-on effect on the midfield and the defence – we even had the spectacle of Vardy back acting as a defender when he should have been at the opposite end of the pitch ready to do one of his runs and score a goal, shouldn’t he?
One has to question also what was in the manager’s strange mind with his substitutions – five in what SHOULD have been a team consolidating game. He pulled off all three of his preferred strikers and replaced them with one striker and two midfielders AGAINST only 10 men indeed, why?
The game certainly was the morale boaster predicted – but not for England as intended, but for Portugal who might well play against us if we actually each the Euro quarter-finals and you wouldn’t bet on England’s chances when Ronaldo will be fit to play (he wasn’t last night)
England undeservedly won 1-0 against a 10 man team at the last knockings. Hodgson looked extremely embarrassed in the post match interview, didn’t he?
May 31, 2016
ENGLAND EURO 2016 SQUAD of 23
[the 3 players in red were dropped from the provisional squad when it had to be finalised by TODAY]
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Fraser Forster, Tom Heaton
Left-backs: Danny Rose, Ryan Bertrand
Right-backs: Nathaniel Clyne, Kyle Walker
Centre-halves: Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, John Stones
Midfielders: Jordan Henderson, Jack Wilshere, Eric Dier, James Milner, Danny Drinkwater, Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Dele Alli, Fabian Delph
[injured] , Andros Townsend
Forwards: Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford
KEY: italic => was almost certain to go blue=>only 7 out of 23 in Hodgson’s squad 2 years ago for Rio World Cup purple=>only 1 out of 7 ‘on standby’ in Hodgson’s squad 2 years ago for Rio World Cup strikethrough red = dropped
Waiting for ‘full of indecision’ manager Roy Hodgson to announce his coy choices for England’s Euro 2016 football squad following his many years of preparation, and after his blooding galore of average only players, but with his nevertheless totally successful qualifying campaign (albeit against substandard teams), has been like painstakingly watching a man with a painfully bad stutter delivering a speech, hasn’t it?
The thought that Hodgson has put into it all, would put Albert Einstein to shame, don’t you think? Well now after a number of delays, the decisions have been made (even if very late on the last deadline day), the players told, and the England supporters informed. Are they all satisfied or should they be satisfied, eh?
At Hodgson’s last tournament squad announcement for the Rio World Cup 2 years ago, this blogger questioned if it was a team of losers led by a loser – and so it turned out, didn’t it?
Well, in the last week we have had the evidence from two of the three Euro warm-up friendlies and individual performances – first against ‘on the up’ Turkey (ranked 13), and the second against rubbish bottom position Australia (ranked 50). They were pretty dreadful affairs for an England (rank 10) team the manager tells the media can actually win the Euros – dream on Ray? [The final warm-up test will be against fellow finalists Portugal (rank 8) in a couple of day’s time and that could be very interesting, don’t you think? However, all the players including the Reserve list have already been set in concrete, haven’t they?].
It has been the Aussie game that may well have proved terminal though to England’s chances in France this June. The so called socceroos couldn’t score despite poor defending, so England helped them out with a dreadful own goal – which only goes to demonstrate what an unconvincing defence England fields these days. At the other end though two significant goals erupted – the first by very talented 18 years old rookie Marcus Rashford after just a few minutes play in his first international, and that was followed late in the game by one by ‘Hodgson’s cannot-be-dropped’ captain Wayne Rooney.
These two single events have meant both that Rashford’s twelfth hour bizarre inclusion in England’s plans has escalated into his keeping another more experienced accomplished player out in the cold, together with the fact that Rooney, who is no longer considered a first choice striker, will nevertheless keep his place and totally undermine the team’s strategy, shape, and results on the field of play, won’t it?
You can expect young non-streetwise Rashford to be seen as a potential threat and to be harshly targeted by the big-boys if England as expected do get through to the last 16 – and that could destroy the lad as well as England’s chances, don’t you think? As for Rooney, the one thing we do know about him apart from him lacking pace is that he never performs well on the world stages, don’t you think?
Hodgson, who seems to have delayed everything on behalf of injury suffering striker Daniel Sturridge, has ignored that this previously proficient striker is no longer at his best, is seriously low on confidence, and remains of questionable fitness – he should not be going to a major international tournament, when fit proven strikers are available , surely? [Sturridge is the only player going who has not featured in the last two friendlies].
The exclusion of outright winger Andros Townsend may not be the biggest surprise as he has never previously been seen as a key player.
Dithering Hodgson still had the chance of a rethink before submitting his final squad to the UEFA authorities – so he could have seized that final opportunity of taking one of the discarded but proven experienced strikers, who could have been a critical match winner for England – Jermain Defoe older but oozing class and the Premiership’s eighth top scorer this season, or now in form the best ball header in the world West Ham’s top scorer this season Andy Carroll, who is much more threat than Man U’s Rooney.
The removal from the squad of defensive midfielder Danny Drinkwater, while experienced poor performing Henderson’s was preferred, is another predictably massive mistake by Hodgson, as this player has been an astounding powerhouse in lowly Leicester City defying all odds by winning the Premier League this season and more importantly was required to give balance to the England team.
While Hodgson was determined to play his hero player, but injury prone midfielder Jack Wilshere ,when hasn’t even played a full match lately, is another predicted foul-up, and England can fear the consequences of including suspect players ,when he also keeps disappointing season’s Ross Barkley’s with a suspect level of match fitness , Cahill who is having hip injections and Smalling hobbling off verses the Aussies, don’t you think?
Unfortunately England are not potential winners at these European Championship in France as muddled Hodgson hasn’t built and formed a team ‘ever’ – just gathered together in panic a crowd of non-world class individuals, as now. He said he expected to select a squad full of freshness and optimism when he had decided who would represent England at EURO 2016 – now look what we got, eh? With only ten days to go, a negatively prepared bundle of players, from whom the manager doesn’t even know what format he wants, or who will play where, or certainly not his best eleven – let alone the players having any knowledge of all that, or the confidence to know which of them will walk out onto the pitch.
England are possible winners, though not the tournament itself, but of the last of the football predominant 24 countries to lodge the players names – the protracted delay met the Uefa deadline, but will have made England vulnerable when it appears to be simply over one overrated underperforming player, and will have struck fear into their opponents hearts NOT, eh? [Hodgson has had some 37,000 hrs since his last debacle selection of England’s Euro squad in 2012, but he left it until the last 10 hours – there’s brinkmanship incompetence for you, eh?].
If England fails this summer, as they surely will, the FA will be sorely tempted into sacking Roy Hodgson overnight, and set about finding yet another loser to manage the National side. That would come at a good time because they will be spoilt for choice with so many managers biting the dust – but leading the pack must surely be another one with an impressive CV on paper Dutchman Louis van Gall, who luckily for the FA has been released a year early by Man U after achieving another notch on his track-record by winning the FA Cup, don’t you think?
England’s Group games will be against Russia (11 June), verses Wales (18 June), and finally up against Slovakia (20 June).
[As well as the top two from the six Groups, four of the six ‘third best’ teams also get into the knockout last 16 – if England can’t achieve that it will prove beyond doubt that football is finished at the home of the wonderful game, surely?]