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Cundy: Iceland embarrassment has been a long time coming

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The fall out from England’s elimination from Euro 2016 following defeat to Iceland, continues as Roy Hodgson fell on his sword and a number of player have been singled out for criticism.

In a dire performance that was a continuation from the shocking display against Slovakia, England took the lead after minutes when Raheem Sterling was felled in the box and Wayne Rooney converted the penalty.

It was thought that having taken the lead England would comfortably see out the game against their Nordic opponents, but less than a minute later Iceland were level and 12 minutes after that, following what appeared to be a perfect start, they found themselves behind.

England never looked like getting back into the game despite their chances although things did pep up a bit when Marcus Rashford was brought on for the game’s dying minutes.

But come the final whistle England were out, suffering their most embarrassing and shocking defeat in recent memory.

There were immediately reports of discontent that both Wayne Rooney and Roy Hodgson have since denied, but the damage was done and Hodgson called time on his spell as England manager in his post game presser.

Now in the aftermath of Hodgson’s departure we spoke to Jason Cundy about England’s elimination and what really went wrong:

Plainly and truthfully, this is an embarrassment but not one that will come as a huge shock given England’s struggles.

In previewing the game I predicted that England would struggle, but still felt they would win. Instead we were ‘treated’ to a listless and dire performance against the smallest nation in the competition, ending with us on the wrong end of the result.

We knew that our defence was a weak point, but the defending for both goals left a lot to be desired. Having seen Iceland score an almost identical goal against Slovakia, the fact nobody challenged the knock on from a long throw thus leaving Ragnar Sigurdsson free to draw Iceland level was baffling

The second goal was just as bad and for all the good he did in the first two games, I don’t have a clue what Kyle Walker was doing. Joe Hart has let himself down badly in the tournament; he should have done better for Gareth Bale’s goal against Wales and was just as bad for Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s effort that proved to be the winner. A goalkeeper of his standard should have saved that comfortably, and you wonder what Pep Guardiola is thinking having seen his number 1 make two high profile errors.

After going behind, we never looked like getting back into it. Rooney may have done well in his midfield role previously but was terrible last night. I haven’t seen Kane look as bad as he did  last night either and should have been taken off set pieces at some point when it became patently clear that we were never going to get anything from them. Jack Wilshere was poor against Slovakia and carried this on yesterday whilst Raheem Sterling has been poor all tournament, was dropped for Slovakia and then inexplicably restored to the starting XI in a must win game against Iceland. He has looked short of confidence all tournament and yesterday was no different even if he did win the penalty for England’s only goal.

The players looked shell shocked and even scared; a prime example of this being Harry Kane trying to control a simple short pass only for the ball to roll under his foot.

One of the biggest complaints though and something that may haunt Hodgson will be his decision to only give Rashford 4 minutes of game time.

Harry Kane has looked tired yet was picked to come on ahead of Rashford against Slovakia and with one sub left and 60 minutes to go, Hodgson left it until the 87th minute to bring on the United youngster against Iceland.

Against Wales he looked lively, and when he came on last night he did too, breathing life briefly into a deflated England side.

Hodgson should have brought him on well before he was introduced and if he had, who is to say he wouldn’t have sparked a change?

There are a number of reasons for this poor showing at the Euros but Hodgson will and should take the blame, but not all of it.

This is a deep seated problem and something that has plagued the country well before Hodgson became manager. For the 18 tournaments since winning the World Cup in 1966, only 6 knockout games have been won and of that 6 1 was on penalties and 2 were after extra time. So 3 wins in normal time in 50 years of knockout football? A damning indictment of the game in this country.

The facts are we don’t produce enough players of a standard that can win a tournament. When was the last time England produced a player of Bale’s quality? Eden Hazard? These are the young players shining at the tournament and we don’t have equivalents.

English football is a mess and it has come home to roost at another major tournament.

 

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