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The final before the final
No, I’m not talking about the Germany vs France match but rather the Wales vs Portugal semi final. Am going to go out on a limb and state that an underdog is going to win this Euros. Am still a believer in the 12-year cycle of underdogs winning the damn thing. Denmark 92, Greece 2004 and now Wales/Portugal 2016.
Keg Baridi (I say Wales 2016) Nairobi, Kenya
A Belgian point of view
After a few days of dealing with the disappointment I thought I would send in some thoughts from a slightly different point of view.
– First off, well done Wales. You were the better team for well over 70 minutes of the game. I hope you make it past the Ronaldo ego-parade
-I really have to object to the ‘second best team in the world’ moniker. Yes we have decent players, with some great ones thrown in there. Yes, we have won a fair amount of games. But I can’t recall a time recently where we have dominated against another top side. Our qualifying games against Wales weren’t exactly one-sided were they?
– part of the blame for our failure to live up to (mostly other people’s) expectations must fall on Wilmots…in a perfect world we would have a better coach, but I am partial to having a countryman at the helm and who is a better Belgian manager?
– we were hamstrung by our defense. The dreadlocked duo of denayer and lukaku on the left side is a far cry from kompany /vertonghen/ vermaelen. Meunier, while good going forward, wasn’t much use in the back…but the RB issue has been an endemic one for us.
-Any of the injured defenders partnering alderweireld would have given us a much better chance to prevent the first two goals.
– when we were good we were very good, but when we were bad we were invisible. It is boggling to me how much energy we showed at the start of the halves, before fading for no apparent reason. The quality is there, but not the camaraderie and spirit that binds a team together. We are at heart a divided country, and it is difficult to see a way to deal with this effectively. Imagine if England and Scotland had one team, and to top it off the Scots only spoke Gallic. It’s tough to communicate when you’re not even speaking the same language.
-I know fellaini was brought on provide an aerial threat, but why on earth didn’t we bring on dembele or mertens? power or speed. Witsel is actually a tidy player, but wasn’t performing this game…we could have added a bit of drive without sacrificing defensively by bringing dembele on.
– all in all I’m not disheartened too much. Unlike a portion of English fans and seemingly all of it’s journalists , I have no high expectations for my national team. Hopes, maybe, but not expectations. After all I’m just happy to be there…not too many years ago we were one of those teams at the bottom of the group, if we made it at all. 2 quarterfinals in a row isn’t so bad, considering!
Matt S ( Rode Duivel cast away in Florida)
There are many ‘reasons’ for England’s failure
Nice try John Nicholson, but your argument is way too shallow and doesn’t hold up to scant scrutiny. You’ll have to scratch ‘no reason’ from the countless other ‘reasons’ for England’s perennial failure.
If football was as you say – chaotic – Iceland or even Luxembourg would be just as likely to win any given tournament as France or Germany. The fact that the stronger teams win more often is because it’s not chaotic. Superior skills and ‘systems, routines and forward planning’ designed to suit those superior skills win more often than not, with the exceptions being the upsets that delight us so.
You can’t say there’s ‘no reason’ for England’s failures. The reason is simple: they’re not good enough/have inferior skills.
There, I’ve saved your entire nation untold amounts of painful angst and self-analysis the next time you get knocked out of a tournament – or don’t qualify.
This statement is particularly thoughtless: ‘What does that prove? Nothing, except that football really is chaos and those who seek to tame it with systems, routines and forward planning are going against the very nature of the sport.’ Tell that to the Italians and Germans and Spaniards with their youth development systems consistently producing top-class footballers and resulting in (who would’ve guessed) multiple tournament victories.
A final point from an admittedly mystified foreigner: all the reasons/non-reasons for England’s elimination to Iceland could have been copied and pasted from past tournaments, as Nicholson says. Yet, no matter how many times they get repeated, nothing gets done to improve things.
The one issue that could so easily be tackled in a meaningful way is to increase the number of coaches at junior level. That very striking statistic that always floats about, on the ratio of kids to coaches being so out of synch with the footballing powerhouses, may not be the only reason England aren’t good enough, but it is one that certainly contributes (proof in pudding, reputation of English players lacking skills etc) and is relatively easy to fix. And that’s what mystifies me – there’s so much money floating about, why don’t they do it? Just pay more money to junior coaches with incentives for success and hallelujah hippedy dippedy doo dah (sorry) you’ll get more coaches, standards will get better and things will improve.
Or am I missing something and being an ignorant foreigner? Is there a reason this easily fixable problem never gets tackled?
England need Paul McKenna (or Kaa the snake)
In the past 8 months, England have beaten all 4 of the semi finalists at Euro 16. It’s clearly not ability, but mental toughness they’re lacking.
Surely the best man for the England managers job isn’t Klinsmann, Hiddink, Allardyce, Hoddle or Blanc. No. We need to get a hypnotist in to convince them that they’re playing a series of friendlies in February. The question is do we go for an English mind bender who knows the players like Paul McKenna, or can we tempt an exotic foreign one like Kaa the Snake from Jungle Book FC?
It would certainly make press conferences more interesting if McKenna clicked his fingers and Chris Smalling starting barking like a Yorkshire Terrier.
Jae, Tunbridge Wells
More thoughts on England
I read the mailbox yesterday evening, and just wanted to comment on the first point about the English youth. While there is no doubt we played with a certain naivety, I am not sure who Hodgson could have called up that would have solved that problem? The only player with any real leadership experience was Rooney, as we saw Hodgson did everything in his power to shoehorn him into the line up somewhere. Cahill has always been a headless chicken, Hart isn’t a leader no matter how many times he puts himself in front the TV cameras. John Terry would have been perfect, but really he has made himself un-selectable due to his past incidents. Other than that I just don’t see anyone.
It raises another question, when Rooney does move on (please, please, please be now), who takes over the armband? As I said already, I do not trust Cahill to organize the back line, let alone motivate the team. That leaves Milner, but again you would be shoe horning somebody in to wear the armband. England have proved time and again that when left to their own devices they will crumble under pressure, so I do not envy the next manager for his choice here.
Ben Johnson, AFC
The phoenominal Welsh victory on Friday not only propelled them to the biggest football match in their history, it also effectively disposed of practically every sorry excuse for England’s shambolic exit. What we are left with is a team that look metally brittle, scared rigid of failure and deviod of leadership.
When England went 2-1 down against Iceland, what we needed was a presence on the touchline to grab the England players by the collar and get them back in to it. What we saw was a nervous and dispairing figure, who looked like he’d burnt the dinner. When we needed Admiral Nelson, we got Captain Birdseye.
To get to the point, we need a f**king leader. Someone you’d run through a brick wall for, someone who can stand up when the going gets tough and drag self doubting, headline fearing twenty somethings to victory. Roy seems like a lovely bloke, and I’m sure he’d be great to have a cup of tea with and a reminisce about rationing, but that doesn’t cut it!
When we have progressed in previous tournaments, we have had managers that have been able to bring out the best in players and who have had their full respect. Terry Venables was charismatic, knew who needed and arm around them and who needed a kick up the arse, and turned a blind eye to the odd dentist chair here and there, because he understood that it helped bring the team together. Bobby Robson, although not totally removed from Roy in his manner in later years, was a progressive coach who had the respect and fierce loyalty of his players throughout his time as manager. Contrast these men with the ranty and desperate Taylor, the frankly weird Hoddle, the emotionless Swede, the wally with a brolly and the disciplinarian Italian and you get to the bottom of our recent problems.
The England team is made up of some excellent players, who are coached by some of the best managers in the game and play in one of the strongest leagues in the world. However, unless you have a uniting force that can give them clear direction, confidence and a pat on the back when something doesn’t go to plan, like the majority of us, they will not achieve their best. Forget tacticians, titles and FA sweethearts, the next England manager needs to have a track record of getting the best out of his players, and he needs to have something that a lot of our recent managers seem to lack, a personality.
I’m sure I won’t be alone in this, but I’m calling bullsh*t on Dejected England Fan’s mail about there being too many young players in our team. Alli and Dier were among our better players during the tournament, we all know what Kane can do but was out of form and all three showed obvious signs of ‘fatigueness’ after a long season with Spurs. Admittedly Sterling had a bad tournament but Rashford looked like the brightest of sparks during his limited game time. As mentioned, Stones and Barkley didn’t get any minutes. In my opinion, the age of these players had no negative effects on any of the results.
The more experienced players should have stepped up and showed some leadership but the fact that our young players ‘didn’t know what the f**k they were doing at times’ and the elder players ‘were all out of position so they didn’t know what the f**k they were doing’ shows that our undoing was more of a tactical nature rather than one of average age.
I have nothing against Hodgson and I think he did a fairly good job of steadying the ship after the disasters of McClaren and Capello but he was always the safe option, and it showed in his team selection and tactics. I’m torn between the direction I’d like the F.A. to take now. Hiddink has done well at two spells with Chelsea and has had relative success with national teams in the past that would be deemed by some as being worse than England. At 69 though he wouldn’t be a long term option although there are no obvious candidates of a younger age that stand out. I think a foreign coach is the way to go. Let’s face it, after the media sh*t show of the last week which English manager would want that potentially facing them in the future. My pick would be Laurent Blanc, previous experience of international management and shown at PSG that he has the ability to handle to the bigger characters within the team. We all know it’ll be Fat Sam though, or Hoddle. *shudders*
Dan (I’d rather see a younger team play with passion and energy than an older team playing with boredom and entitlement), MUFC
Of all the options I probably favour either Hiddink or Neville (because he has two years to learn and won’t do worse than we have done last five tournaments).
Thing is, no truely decent manager would want a part time job like this, with side like ours unless they’re English, and none of those are really good enough. They like to be involved with the players regularly and the cut and thrust of club football. The only way we’ll get a decent manager is to treat it like the part time job it is and offer it to someone like Jose. Else we will just get chancers and those wanting a final pay off.
Yaya still has a place
The subject of Yaya Toure’s future has been the talk of late popping up every now and again as to the where abouts of his next club and that it indeed is his time to move on with his previous manager Pep taking over at city.
I for one completely disagree …
For one Yaya has been one of the most influential players at city during his time and arguably the best midfielder in the league. He’s managed to dominate the midfield and rack up important goals which have seen city progress to the heights they sit at today. His tall statue and skill set make him the perfect midfielder and let’s not forget his electrifying box to box runs which remind us of his raw power and skill. Yes of late he has looked a little sluggish and lazy at times this previous season , but are we so quick to get rid of a player who has been so crucial to city’s success?
Especially now with Pep coming in to a new league he’s going to need to experienced players from which to rebuild an aging side.
I’d like to see Pep use Yaya as the central holding midfielder and allow the likes of De Bruyne and Silva to push forward supporting the attack who clearly are at their best playing behind the striker as apposed to on the wing( leave that to the likes of Nolito and possibly Sane)
And let’s be honest there are not many clubs who can afford Yaya’s wages and I think he and his agent know that , I think he has all the attributes to make an excellent holding midfielder and id like to think Pep can recognize that..
Least we forget the Yaya of old..
Barrett , South Africa