Mails: Slaven Bilic for England, please

Date published: Tuesday 21st June 2016 2:31

Mail with every single one of your thoughts. Except the dirty ones.


Defending Hodgson
I genuinely feel sorry for Roy Hodgson. It seems we need to gallop home 3-0 in every game for the man to get any credit whatsoever, and even then it’ll be because the opposition were no good.

A reminder: Football is not an exact science. Football is a wonderful journey into chaos – one moment of brilliance, one mistake and a game is won or lost. Over 3 games we’ve played mostly quite well, as befits a team with mostly quite good players. Is it the fault of the manager that we missed the chances we created? Everyone seems to agree that we have good strikers, and yet when they fail to do the thing they are supposed to be good at, it’s the managers fault that they failed.

I don’t believe Hodgson is a perfect manager, but I do believe he is currently the best English manager for the job. He has adapted his tactics and approach, but will still get criticised for being outdated and old. He got criticised for playing Rooney, and criticised for dropping him. Would I have made 6 changes last night? Probably not, but my only concern before the game was both Henderson and Wilshere coming in at the same time. Also, crucially, I haven’t seen the players in training all week, and don’t have access to their fitness and fatigue information.

All I’d really ask of the England fans out there, is please, pretty please, can we postpone the attack on the England manager and players until our tournament is actually over? Because in case you hadn’t noticed, we’re very much still in the thing.
Jeremy (resisted doing the Hodgson’s choice/Hobson’s choice thing) Aves


It is funny how people are so freaking negative on hindsight and the paper headlines turn to paint a terrible picture.

Roy made a gutsy decision against Slovakia. Almost nobody in the media criticized the number of changes before hand. Everybody played safe by calling it a risk. If you dont have the courage to predict the issues, it is spineless to criticize it post the match.

Roy cannot win. Either he would be too conservative or too aggressive. Given how negative the media and the mindset is, it becomes tougher to do the job.

Dropping Rooney yesterday was correct. If you want to see a proper midfielder, look at Iniesta or Modric. Rooney’s only trick so far has been to turn his body right and find walker 9 times out of 10. It is so one dimensional that teams can easily plan for it.

Rather a coach with guts than one without a spine. Support the team and let the man do his job.

England would have to beat two of Italy, Germany, Belgium, France and Spain on their way to win the cup. Most of these are where England will be the underdog. Might as well enjoy the run like that of the underdog and be greatful for being there.
Sudarsan Ravi


Obviously the result was disappointing, as was not topping the group but I can’t help but feel the criticism of Uncle Roy and the changes he made last night has been a little over the top.

I agree that on the face of it six changes is a lot but things are not always that simple. Amongst the praise for his subs against Wales there were many dissenting voices, critical that Roy didn’t start Sturridge and Vardy in the first place. I can only assume that they are changes everyone would have made, leaving four others. Dele Alli looked a bit off the pace against Wales. I suspect if he’d started again last night there would have been criticism of him being run into the ground.

I would say, therefore, that you could consider three of the changes to be contentious. Changing both full-backs is maybe a strange move but we were never going to be tested defensively. Clyne played well I thought, so we didn’t really miss Walker.

So if we are being critical of Roy it is because he didn’t start Rooney (who a large number of people didn’t want in the team two weeks ago) and Danny Rose. Does anybody honestly believe Rose would have been the difference last night?

We’re through to the next round, we’re unbeaten and we should have a decent chance of making the Quarter-Finals. Can we honestly say we should be doing better than that?


But he’s getting off lightly
First of all, let me say that I think England have been generally been okay to quite good in this tournament. We’ve looked the better side in all 3 games to so far. Hodgson is obviously not a bad a manager, and deserves credit for getting us here in the first place. But . . .

In a match where first place in the group, and a potentially easier run to the latter stages of the tournament, were up for grabs, why play what was an essentially experimental team?

Why drop four of your better performers (Rooney, Alli, Walker, Rose) for players who are either struggling for fitness (Wilshere), who’ve never quite impressed for England anyway (Henderson), and who have no experience at this level (Bertrand)?

I could understand 2 or 3 changes. Perhaps Vardy and Sturridge for Kane and Sterling, and Bertrand for Rose at a push. But changing 60% of your outfield personnel in arguably the crunch game of the group, and treating it as a dead rubber? It was a strange, strange decision, especially for a manager with a reputation for conservatism. We’re all geniuses with the benefit of hindsight, granted, but eyebrows were raised beforehand, and sure enough, the result was not optimal, when an optimal result was definitely within reach. That is largely Hodgsons fault for upsetting the cohesion of the team,

England have now only won one of their last seven games in tournament football proper. They failed to win at all in Brazil 2014. And yet the criticism of Hodgson is muted at best. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and perhaps a sign of lowered expectations. But where as once the press may have been overzealous in prosecuting England managers, are they know holding back where criticism is actually warranted?

Pete (at work)


Tournament management
6 changes?! Unthinkable!! What are we doing?! In the illustrious words of Phil McNulty (I still can’t understand how he’s “Chief football writer” for the BBC):

“Hodgson, in one of the most bizarre moves conducted by an England manager at a major tournament, chose this crucial moment to make six changes to his side.”

Absolute rubbish.

Firstly, it’s short sighted to play our strongest 11 every match. Better teams like Spain and Germany rotate their squads throughout – they’re expecting to have to play the 7 games required to win the tournament. I’m sure there’s not outrage from their fans – they understand rotation is necessary. It’s called tournament management.

In a recent Telegraph article, Gerrard mentioned how in past tournaments almost the same 11 has played every game. This had lead to an exhausted team in the knockouts along with a demoralised squad who haven’t played and don’t feel part of the tournament.

Secondly, I don’t believe this was a ‘crucial moment’. With 4 points we were already 99% certain to go through. The difference between finishing 1st and 2nd is marginal given the draw. 1st place is likely to get Albania, Portugal, Spain (or similar). 2nd place gets Hungary, France, Germany (or similar). To be honest I’d probably rather avoid Spain. This match was a perfect opportunity to rest some tired players – did nobody else see how much running Walker has done or how knackered Alli and Kane looked?

In the last minutes, whilst people were slating us for not going for it, we actually had much more to lose than to gain (3rd place likely gets Spain or Germany next round).

Cut England some slack for once! It’s not perfect, but I’ll happily take second place and a fresh squad.
Dr Otter (Catch me if you can cos I’m the England man)


Carroll snobbery cost England
England spent the last 15 minutes of yesterday’s game getting into crossing positions and aiming stood up balls to the back post as they failed to break down Slovakia. Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy and the unused Marcus Rashford are not known for their ability to meet such crosses and it cost England.

The snobbery from people towards Andy Carroll whenever his name is mentioned as a plan B is frankly pathetic. England were crying out for him yesterday, someone to come on for 10-15 mins and cause havoc, which he does like no other striker. Yeah he isn’t fast and can’t get in quickly behind defences but how different could it have been with a player on the bench tailor made for that kind of game.

Yeah I’m biased as a West Ham fan, but we also have a manager who watched the game in the ITV studio last night who has the balls to change things when they aren’t working and has a plan to try and change the outcome.

Carroll may not be pretty but he is effective. It’s a shame the man in charge of the England team isn’t brave enough to select England’s best alternative.
Mike (roll on next season!) WHUFC, Upminster


Bilic for England
Did someone else already suggest this, but how about Slaven Bilic as the next England Manager, and since he’s already in France is he available next Monday?

Woy is saying sometime soon somebody is gonna get it, ‘one day we’ll put them away’, we didn’t in Euro 2012, we didn’t in WC2014 and we haven’t in Euro 2016, someday Woy, is too long to wait. After the game Woy said, the only thing we didn’t do was score, precisely Woy, that’s the frigging point!

As Bilic pointed out we dominated possession because Slovakia let us, they didn’t press, they conceded half the pitch, but the players put out for England couldn’t find a way through. In the previous games, Kane looked disconnected from the rest of the team, he may be tired, but even a tired striker can shoot if given the service, he hasn’t had it: the Manager and the system are contributing. Sturridge is a selfish twat, he’s a real talent, true, but I suspect not as good as he thinks he is, however he is also not suited to being out wide and coming deep to collect the ball as was, apparently, the requirements of Woys system….why was Henderson on the pitch, in fact why is he in the squad, Ross Barkley has been poopie this year, but his type of guile may have been more useful than the huff and puff of Henderson?

Got a bit off track there….how about Slaven then?
El Nino (Eddie Howe to Manage the Cherries and the Hammers while Slaven is away with England) AFCB


Tired of the tired rhetoric
Every competitive team in the tournament is fielding players off the back off a full season. Some having played club games to even latter stages than England’s squad (Champions League). The players had time off to relax after the season. They at professional athletes. We can’t blame players poor form in tiredness.

Dier looked knackered yesterday, because he ran all game. Not because he played for a good team fighting for the premier league.

Sterling is crap. Yet Kane is just tired?
Don’t even utter winter break


Rooney blindness syndrome
Even F365 has fallen into the willful Rooney blindness syndrome. Since coming on last night, he did not make one positive pay and if i remember correctly, lost the ball on at least ten occasions, if not more. The commentators and then the pundits kept making excuses for him. When he would try to run with the ball, he always lost it.

The comms would just say Rooney is doing well, driving with the ball, conveniently overlooking the fact that not once did he drive correctly. The pundits used the fact he was a substitute to try to exonerate him. He came on at 55 and hence played 40 minutes till the end.

Mostly, though, he just ended the tempo of England’s game. Wilshere, Sturridge, Dier and Henderson were constantly pinging good forward passes through the lines and opening Slovakia up After Rooney’s introduction it was laboured, Slovakia got back into their box and the result was blocked shots from outside the area.

Rooney did not do one positive thing last night, yet he completely gets away with it while Henderson, Sturridge and Wilshere were incisive. inventive and quick with their passing but got a lot of stick.
Khan, Lahore


Perspective, please
I’m pretty satisfied that the F365 readership has a balanced take on the outcome of England’s first 3 fixtures. The wailing and gnashing of teeth elsewhere is, to be frank, annoying the hell out of me.

I’ll keep this brief: if this squad was assembled in the Premier League, it wouldn’t win it – certainly, not at the moment, and probably not ever. There are 3 players with significant international and European experience (Hart, Cahill, Rooney). There are some players with potential and a bit of experience (Spurs and Liverpool players) and the rest. 2 players were lower league until relatively recently (nothing wrong with that, but don’t expect them to be tearing up a tournament straight away). And then there’s the gamble on a “great white hope” who gets injured frequently, allegedly can’t get fit because of lifestyle and can now barely play.

I think we’ve done quite well all things considered.
Stu, North Yorks


God, it is depressing being an England fan, I cannot believe the negativity this morning (including from F365).

We’ve qualified easily with the likely prospect of some weak opposition in the last 16, with the added bonus of half the first choice eleven having had a decent rest.

Plus, those who were saying Henderson was awful, you’re just plain wrong. Imagine if it was Rooney who set up those three chances, the media would be falling all over themselves to call him world class.
Jordon Handley


Is Jordan the new Michael?
With the polarising views about his performance in this morning’s mailbox, is Jordan Henderson the new Michael Carrick for England?
Yong Yao (football exile in America)


Other England thoughts
Why are people so surprised that we were so lax going forward? Clyne, Henderson, Lallana and Sturridge? It’s not exactly G Neville, Becks and a young Wayne is it? Without a big German screaming from the sidelines they revert to type, namely average players playing averagely.

Am I the only one who feels that if Sterling had played how Lallana has this tournament, the crowd funding would be for an assassin, not a flight home. Every time he gets the ball he puts himself in a position to either shoot (invariably straight at the keeper) or pass backwards. There is no attacking creativity.

Why do England feel the need to try and play the Barca way? Endless sideways passes with no end product – we don’t have a Messi/Suarez/Neymar to do the impossible and dribble through 50 defenders before scoring. If international football was the Premier League, England are Everton and we need to play accordingly.

What is the difference between us and say Ireland or Wales? Ireland have Italy coming up, their teams are hideously mismatched. Italy should dominate this game. However I think we all know that by the end of that match, an Irish player will be bleeding, there will be exhausted and cramped midfielders and every fan in the stadium will be bursting with pride for the effort put in. Can any of us England fans expect the same passion and commitment from any performance? Can any of us remember such a performance? Turin 97? Munich 2001?

This is what separates us from our less hyped, but more loved cousins across the way.
Alex, Bermuda


For all that is being written about Wales being better than England because of their play and results against Russia and Slovakia the real difference was that those two teams thought they could get a result against Wales and opened up more.

Contrast that with Wales performance against England, using the same ‘park the bus’ tactics – only less successfully.

England will be better off meeting teams who think they can win than playing for the draw and having the game go to penalties. While Wales will hope for teams of lesser quality that will not take them so seriously.

In the end, we always knew England’s squad was more geared to teams playing against us. After all, Vardy was so successful as a counter attacking forward. Why Hodgson thought playing Vardy with Sturridge would work no one knows. Sturridge would have been Better with another creative midfielder around him to play those short, quick one-twos to split open the Slovakia’s defence. Vardy just doesn’t work in the role and neither does Kane. Both like to run at, across or behind the defence one on one.

England can still do it but it will be tough with a tactically inept manager.
Paul McDevitt


Killer Wales
What. A. Game.

I had one hope for Wales before this tournament – do ourselves proud, give it a go – so that people won’t scoff at us anymore (a la Jamaican bobsled team in Cool Runnings).

We achieved that aim in the first game against Slovakia. Heck – we even put up a fight against England for crying out loud!

But I have witnessed the best Welsh performance in my lifetime, an emphatic unflattering 3-0 win against (an admittedly poor) Russian side.

I will be watching the match on Saturday at my uncle’s wedding (fanzone being prepared as we speak!) with a massive smile on my face. We could get battered 5-0 by Albania, but do you know what? I will enjoy it and I will still be proud of the team.

We go again!
Gareth (Pirlo….. The Italian Joe Allen) Cad, N.Wales


I’m absolutely delighted this morning with Wales’s resounding victory over an admittedly poor Russian side. So far I’ve experienced dismay, nervousness, excitement and elation capped off with the single best display by a Wales team. Ever.

If we don’t go beyond the next round, then I’ll be more than happy. The tournament’s been great.

I can’t help but compare the fortunes of Wales and our noisy neighbours(!), but I do feel sad for England fans who never ever seem able to enjoy a tournament.

Best of luck to Norn Iron tonight – let’s make it three from three.

Happy days
Somerset Dave


Forget Pogba
I know the mails on England are doing a Bayern/PSG/Celtic at the moment, but want to react to the transfer market. The rumour mill has been in overdrive about Paul Pogba since the dawn of time. Why they keep throwing United’s name into the mix baffles me as I don’t see how United have any chance of getting him or why he would even consider a return to Old Trafford. Sure, we have cash to burn and have Josè, but we’ve been up and down the tunnels of transition and are not competing at Europe’s top tier. So it’ll always be a classico battle between Barça and Real for his signature.

However, with Juve asking for world record bids, which is Real’s territory, one of Modric or Kroos will be made the sacrificial lamb (Casemiro is now a mainstay and no, Jamès doesn’t even start games anymore)… So I was wondering, rather than spunking £100m on a world class box-to-box midfielder, why not spend £40m for a peak world class playmaker and activate the £22m release clause of a peak world class defensive midfielder and you have a solid world class midfield.

Note, I’m not saying I think United can get Kroos and Kantè, but surely any manager or DOF of any of the top teams (bar Madrid) coveting Paul should be thinking of this; get 2 for around half the price of one. I’ll consult for Ed for free tho.
Mere Godled, MUFC, Nigeria (Imagine adding a double K to the double Sch midfield)


Book club
Well that’s 9 books to add to my summer reading collection! I was pleased to see Robert Enke’s book on the list and would implore everyone to buy a copy – his descent from promising player to the absolute despair he found himself in is hearbreaking but is a story that needed to be told!

A shout out also for My Father and Other Working Class Heroes by Gary Imlach and Engineering Archie (A book about the design of almost every iconic stadium in the UK)

Well done F365!
Jim Barnett


As an avid reader of football books, I was very happy with your feature today. Having read half of them, it was great to have another five to look forward too. One book I have always enjoyed was the Once in Lifetime, story of the New York Cosmos. A fascinating insight in the boom and bust of the US football league. Also I can’t believe Paul Merson’s book didn’t scrape in the top ten!
Ben Roberts


Absolutely spot on with your recommendation of “A life Too Short”.

Forget about the comparisons with football books, this is simply one of the moving and heartbreaking books I have ever read, of any genre. This book is about so much more than football. It is about tackling an invisible disease that is so misunderstood by so many.

I’m lucky enough to have never experienced depression but I have a close friend who lives with it. I think for the non-sufferer its almost impossible to get your head round what its actually like. I’ve frequently heard comments like: “What does he have to be upset about” and “He just needs to get on with things and pull himself together.” Reading the book shows just how naive and unhelpful these are.

Many equate depression with just “being sad.” Reng helps to shine a light on this brutal, ugly disease and illuminate the truth. Whether we see it or not, we probably all know someone who is depressed. Everyone should read this book to get some understanding of what that’s like.

Mike, LFC, Dubai

P.S. “Coming Back to Me” by Marcus Trescothick is another fantastic book on the same theme. It’s just as moving and heart-wrenching, just with a happier ending.

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