British Isles at Euro 2016 report: England
Holly Thackeray | July 11, 2016
Following the conclusion of a fascinating Euro 2016 this summer, in which Portugal emerged as first-time victors in France, Coral are reviewing each of the British Isles nations’ performances across the Channel.
In this report we run the rule over England, as yet another hopeful campaign ended in ignominy and recriminations for now resigned Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions…
Stage of elimination: Last 16
How could anyone forget? England limped out of the last 16 to huge outsiders Iceland, despite having surely seen how the spirited underdogs operated ahead of their encounter.
An early penalty won by Raheem Sterling and converted by Wayne Rooney, the less said about the pair’s overall performances the better, gave false hope of a thrashing in the fourth minute.
Yet, once that lead crumbled, England (14/1 to win the 2018 World Cup with Coral) did not posses the graft, guile, intelligence or leadership to match the Nordic nation, slipping to an almost inevitable 2-1 defeat also thanks to a Joe Hart howler.
Chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt,” echoed around the arena, but in fairness at least it was an improvement on the failure to crawl out of the 2014 World Cup group stage.
Star player: Eric Dier
It is a case of slim pickings here, with the title perhaps more apt to be ‘player who least disappointed’. Though one man who can leave the Three Lions camp with pride is Tottenham’s Eric Dier.
The Spurs midfield shield conducted his less than glamorous supporting role with class and composure, though the player was tellingly schooled for the majority of his young career in Portugal.
His intuitive, brave defending and probing passes forward certainly reminded more of the Euro champions than country of birth England. Having been thrust into the international limelight with little experience, Dier easily outshone older contemporaries.
Biggest revelation: Marcus Rashford
Again, this is a tough call to make as few supposed stars really stood up to scrutiny when it came to the crunch. Both Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy’s bright starts faded, while flying full backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker were eventually found out at the other end of the pitch when on defensive duty.
So, that really only leaves young Red Devil Rashford, as his cameo against Iceland is an enduring bright spot from a turgid tournament outing by England (who are odds-on at 2/5 to win 2018 World Cup qualifying Group F). The Manchester United teenager showed the desire and talent to run at the opposition single-handedly, outperforming his peers in a matter of minutes against Iceland.
Biggest flop: Raheem Sterling
Now it truly is a coin toss here between Hart and Sterling, though the latter has received most criticism for his dismal displays in an England shirt.
Hart at least looked apologetic after his errors, while Manchester City wingman Sterling flattered to deceive all the way though the Three Lions’ faltering run. Anonymous in most matches, the former Liverpool flank threat was hauled off in all the games he started.
Sterling’s unbelievable close-range miss versus Wales summed up his entire tournament, making many wish he’d missed the flight to France instead.
Managerial performance: Roy Hodgson
In a flashback to two years ago in Brazil, Hodgson again looked out of his depth taking England into a major tournament. The coach deserves credit for the qualifying campaign and friendly success on the road to France, but judged on this tournament deserved the axe.
Luckily for the 68-year-old he fell on his sword first, but it is a poor legacy to leave, as the former Liverpool boss looked lost on the sidelines. Unable to change the course of the Iceland game or field a team capable of breaking down Russia or Slovakia, Hodgson did not pass this test.
Though perhaps the coach’s biggest crimes were attempting to shoehorn skipper Wayne Rooney into a midfield role at the expense of Dele Alli’s best position, or persisting with a below par Harry Kane.
Final Grade: F
This final grade makes sore viewing for Three Lions fans but, as the British Isles team with the most expensive roster, biggest hype and heaviest expectations, their run looks markedly more embarrassing when considering the heroics of neighbours Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.
A lack of of a plan B in the battleplan, over confidence without results on the big stage to back it up yet again, plus poor performances from the manager and star players alike, means England’s time in fierce foes France’s backyard was an emphatic ‘F’ for failure rather than ‘D’ for damp squib.
Pop by our main football section for further British Isles report cards.