Mail email@example.com now. No excuses.
OK, I’ll bite. Paul (CFC) – I have to confess to struggling to agree with almost everything you said in your mail, except the bit at the beginning where you at least recognise that few people will be inclined to agree with you. As you helpfully set your arguments out in order, I’ll take the liberty of replying to each in turn.
– Roy got his team selection wrong. This is explained as Roy missing “low profile hard workers” (such as James Milner or Jordan Henderson, for example?) and “high profile players who have won something” (so, Rooney and Wilshere then). Basically Paul’s argument is that Roy did select a blend of youth and experience, but Paul would have picked different players? In which case I would respectfully remind Paul that since Roy is employed by the FA as the manager of the England football team, and Paul (to my knowledge) is not, then Roy’s opinion wins.
– Players missing chances is the managers fault (in this case). The summary of this explanation is that Roy should be playing Vardy alone up front. Which is exactly what he did against Slovakia. So Paul, I’m glad you agree that Roy made the right decision there.
– Finally, Paul asserts that in cup competitions playing well is useless unless we win. I would personally argue that in a tournament format that opens with a group stage, playing well, not losing and qualifying for the second round is actually a very welcome change from the awful football and results that were served up by England in 2014, 2012, 2010…
– Finally Paul places a huge stinking cherry on top of his argument by asserting that Roy is a dinosaur from a long gone age in football, and should be replaced by ‘Arry Redknapp. Actually, as a learning exercise I think I’ll just leave that there and see if Paul can spot his own mistake.
Terry Hall, Switzerland (and people wonder why outsiders think of England fans as whiny entitled cry babies)
Jesus Christ on a bike.
In case it was too long for any readers let me summarize. I (a man with almost certainly no football experience to speak of) think that the England manager (a man with lots of football experience) has made the wrong choice. He is an idiot, I am a genius. I’m angry that the world doesn’t recognise my genius yet sees fit to appoint an idiot as England manager. None of my friends listen to me. Even though I know nothing about the real practicalities of any of this, here is a detailed tactical breakdown of what I would do if only I was England manager.
My absolute favourite part was this beauty: “Carroll and Barkley should be starting and Rooney and Kane should be on the bench. The names are underwhelming but that’s the point. It will make the team less fearsome but no less dangerous.” I assume the only reason he’s not written to the Spainish and German FA’s imploring them not to start Iniesta & Ramos or Ozil & Muller, is because he doesn’t want to give away he secrets.
Paul for England Manager #tacticalknowhow #gamemanagement #Balls
I’ve noticed an amazing amount of certainty in football fans about what should be done, and how Roy Hodgson is rubbish at his job. I think we all think that we’d make good managers. I mean we all have taken Rochdale to the Champions League Final in Football Manager. How tough can it be? Well think about people like Gary Neville, who with the benefit of technology and time, can regularly tear apart managers performances in games. Hindsight is 20/20 after all. Yet when he was given the reigns of a club, he was singularly awful. We like to think that we have some penetrating insight into what would obviously fix everything and win the game. But no, we just have hunches.
John (what was that about playing better sides?) Matrix AFC
The scapegoat and the supporters
When was the last time England went out of a tournament and everybody just said, “Oh fair enough, that was probably about right for a team of our ability. I don’t blame the manager or any of the players”?
We just can’t do bring ourselves to accept reality. We have to create a reason that we did not win every game 11-0, usually in the form of a national scapegoat. We love a scapegoat, after all, who else would we moan about down the pub on a Tuesday night? And we don’t forget them either. If I mention Gareth Southgate to you, do you think of his impressive achievements as manager for the younger England side that are now breaking through to the first team? Or do you have a sudden urge to go to Pizza Hut?
Now imagine you are part of the England set up at a major international tournament. You have the option of slotting a risky through ball between the 7 Slovakian Centre Backs. If it comes off, you could be the hero, if it doesn’t though, you’ll likely be jeered, blamed for losing possession, receive a lower rating in the next days papers, talked about down the pub for your poor performance, and put yourself in the ‘scapegoat spotlight’. Or you could play a safe square pass back to Jordan Henderson, which definitely won’t place your international career in immediate jeopardy. It’s hardly surprising then, that we are scared to take risks in our play.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, as fans we have a bigger part to play than you might realise. As supporters, we need to actually support them – whether successful or not. Maybe if they felt that backing and safety net, they would be able to play to the potential we know they can?
And if not there’s always Pizza Hut.
Regular Mailbox sensible person thayden was as spot-on and insightful as ever regarding Spurs players – I’m celebrating our fullbacks as well, and I recognize Kane missing his greatest asset, irresistible energy. Unlike thayden though, I find that many of the gripes people have about England are quite understandable. Well, all of them are understandable from a psychological point of view, but some might even be valid.
Let’s take squad selection, for example: suggestions (or moans, if you like) that Andy Carroll should be in the squad have a solid foundation. He’s certainly no Swiss army knife, but he’s a sledgehammer when you need one, and England sorely needed one against Slovakia. A toolbox of 23 items should be large enough to hold one of those if available. Had he been causing havoc in the Slovak penalty area towards the end of the match, England would have had a much better chance of topping the group. Which brings me to my next point.
It doesn’t always matter much, but in this particular instance topping the group was important. Think about it: exactly one team out of Germany, Spain, France, Italy and England can make the final. Even Belgium and Portugal could still end up on the same side of the tournament shceme at the time I’m writing this. This situation was mostly brought about by England and Spain failing to win their groups, but that’s not just lopsided, that’s f**king grim, if you pardon my borrowing the expression.
Still, I suppose what I perceive as thayden’s main point, still stands: England are in it, and moaning won’t get us anywhere. Every match for England from now on may be difficult or very difficult, but all hope is not lost. It never is, it’s football!
Samuli, THFC (London-born Finn, and England fan whenever Finland don’t make it to the tournament – still waiting for the first time and jealously admiring Iceland)
The Rashford bandwagon
Looking at the top half of the draw I wonder if Roy is still having “no regrets” over his selection. If they went all the way to the final (unlikely even in the top half looking at Croatia) it would have been only 4 games in 16 days. Oops.
Guy S, I agree I think it is time for Rashford. He has some really nice touches and flicks around the edge of the area and actually looked incisive when he came on. I groaned when Kane got the nod against Slovakia. I can just imagine Alli, Sturridge, Rashford and Wilshere (I know he was garbage in parts last time out) linking up well and actually being able to (possibly) play through some teams. They actually have the capacity for playing in tight areas and beating people.
I don’t really love Barkley but I would have him any day over Henderson or Lallana. Lallana only ever nearly makes things happen. He is also weak and has a worse finish than Sterling which actually makes him the worst finisher in the England team by my count. I don’t like him.
Pundits and press
Last night when the unchanged Spanish team was read out. The pundits heralded it as an amazing piece of management. The management of seasoned tournament winners. Henry Winter on Twitter said “Spain would never leave Iniesta out, Muller says ‘play your best team’. There were many tweets from journalists. Ian Wright very much alluded to the opinion that that is what England should have done.
Spain lost 2-1. Nobody mentioned it again after the result.
Admittedly, I am not a gobshite pundit, but it appeared to me that Spain tired in the second half and Croatia (Who did make changes) didn’t.
Pundits and Press, have you considered this? England have a tournament plan. Perhaps, just perhaps we can trust in our management, support their decisions and get behind them? No? Didn’t think so. Lets just all sit back and wish we had ‘Arry here crowbarring big names in with no discernible strategy and taking it ‘game by game’ between playing golf and flirting with journalists in the hotel bar.
I love England, I support Roy, and I support the team because I want them to win. To me, that is very simple. Not sure why the pundits and press do not.
Wales: The favourites
In response to Simon Fitzwilliams (winning your group is overrated, just ask Italy), Cambridge email this morning.
Us Welsh fans are genuine in our thoughts that we don’t care what happens now. We’ve waited all our lives to qualify, for most of us that was good enough in itself.
The fact that we have done ourselves proud (on and off the pitch), got over a gut wrenching last minute defeat to our despised neighbours, come back to produce our best display in living memory to qualify and top the group is more that we could have asked for already.
Your remark that ‘as you play a 3rd place team which could be Northern Ireland or another poor team that’s benefitted from the revised format’ just sums up the difference in Welsh/NIrish/Poor Team’s and English attitudes. We are one of the ‘poor teams that’s benefitted from the revised format’. Unlike you we don’t think we are at the top of the tree and have a divine right to beat anyone else. Whoever we play the spectre of defeat looms over us, we can all remember the numerous beatings we’ve taken over the decades.
The thing is instead of wasting time and energy on worrying about losing, tactics and everything else, we just want to invest everything into supporting our boys to help give them the best possible chance of winning. After that what will be will be, we are here to enjoy ourselves, after all isn’t that what football is supposed to be all about?
Having said that of course I will be furious when we lose to a deflected Kyle Lafferty goal in extra time.
Bluebird, Cardiff #TogetherStronger
*If that Croatian goalkeeper had been any further off his line at the penalty, he would have been able to reach out and pick the ball up off the spot. What’s all the more baffling is that the additional assistant referee was looking right at him, and didn’t say or do anything.
According to UEFA’s official definition, they are there “to ensure that the Laws of the Game are upheld, informing the referee of incidents of any kind that he may otherwise have missed, particularly in key areas of the field like the penalty area and its surrounding”. Law 14 says that one of the assistant’s specific roles at a penalty kick is to look for infringements by the goalkeeper, and yet when one was committed right under his nose, it was completely missed.
With this in mind, I’d really like to hear an official’s perspective on these additional assistants – anyone got a number for Name Withheld? What’s Rob McNichol up to these days?
*That said, the penalty itself was a bit harsh. At first viewing, it looked like the defender had gone for the “look Ma, no hands so it’s not a foul” while using the lower body to make contact trick, however the replay showed he was pushed by one Spaniard into the other.
*Ivan Perisic played out of his skin. In the absence of Luka Modric, he really stepped up. As part of Roberto Mancini’s Internazionale squad, that finished fourth in Serie A and 25 points off the pace, I wasn’t sure what to expect. He seems best placed to be the (relatively) unheralded player who moves to the Premier League after a tournament.
*I haven’t read Soccernomics, but I am aware one of the central tenets is to avoid buying players after a good showing at a tournament, because the scouting period is short, the conditions unrepresentative of club football, and the price will be overinflated. If anyone is thinking of buying a player based on seeing them at Euro 2016, just think about how good Nikola Kalinic was last night (he had a great game) and remember what he was like for Blackburn Rovers (not quite as good).
*The only downside to the game was that Glenn Hoddle was co-commentating. At times he sounded like he was watching some of the most famous players in the world for the first time; at other times he sounded like he was seeing a football match for the first time. Then, on about 80 minutes, he referred to “the nearish post”.
Hoddle then chastised David De Gea for attempting to save a shot from Perisic with his foot rather than his hands. It seemed fairly obvious that the problem was not De Gea missing it with his feet, but that the speed and timing of the shot meant that the Spanish stopper didn’t have time to get his hands to it.
In punditry terms, these tournaments are always a testament to the triumph of the new. The most interesting voices have generally been the least familiar, and yet ITV insist on giving their biggest games to someone who is consistently one of the worst performers on any channel.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
I thought I’d add my thoughts to the discussion that went in the mailbox this morning about the tournament expansion. We’ll never go back now. We’ve got 24 teams and it’s never going to get smaller again.
However, the current situation, where you can aim to lose 1-0 twice and then win 1-0 or 2-0 is farcical. Some of these games have been very tedious with teams just shutting up shop. The problem has been that 3rd place qualifiers have a huge incentive to only lose 1-0 as goal difference is very important. It’s not worth the risk to push for an equaliser as 2-0 could be fatal. The format is also very unfair. Portugal for example know for certain that a draw will get them through. Teams that played earlier didn’t have the same certainty.
Oliver’s idea was interesting, however it reminded me of the Cricket World Cup a few years ago where they had groups of 3. The problem is that if you lose one game, you’ve very little chance to redeem yourself. Also, the whole point of expansion is more games, and more money for UEFA. You’d only have 24 group games, instead of 36. They wouldn’t like that. And if we’re going to expand, we may as well let teams enjoy 3 games, instead of 2.
I was against the expansion to 24 as I was worried about the drop in quality. I will happily admit that I was wrong as the games where teams have actually gone for it have been good. Two of Slovakia’s games have been amongst my favourites so far. We need a format that encourages teams to do this.
So whats the solution? I think I’ve found it. Expand again. Expand the tournament to 32 teams. Basic statistics will tell you that out of 50 odd countries, the teams between 25-32 wont be much a great deal worse than 17-24. In the middle of a set, there is a large group that are fairly similar. I looked at the losing 3rd place teams and the best 4th place teams and they were:
Boznia and Herzegovinia
Could anyone really say these teams are much worse than the current bottom 10 or so? I’d much rather watch Slovenia take on Finland because they know they need to win to finish second than to watch a team put backs against the wall, aiming for the 1-0 loss that will see them through.
This could also allow smaller nations to host. Large joint bids were never possible previously, because too many teams would qualify automatically. With 32 teams, you’ve got space, so it’s not a problem. You could have up to 4 host nations, and still have 28 places to play for. Why not a bid between the home nations, minus England? Or Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark? Smaller nations could host, that never could have done so with 16, or even 24 teams.
If we’re going to expand, lets do it properly. 32 teams is the only way to go.
The added bonus of all this is that Scotland might qualify! (Although I’m sure we’d find a way not to.)
Mike, LFC, Dubai
Was it just me, or did anyone else thing the picture of Robbie Savage looked like an older, fatter Giroud?
Jamie (a compliment for Robbie, or an insult for Giroud?) Dowsworth
Just a quick fourth observation on this quote: ‘Arrogance and audacity are strong words, but how else do you describe making so many changes to a side before you’ve even qualified from the group?’
If I was going to describe it Rob, I’d use adjectives like “arrogant” and “audacious” rather than nouns like “arrogance” and “audacity”