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Leadership crisis England's big concern after Iceland loss

Football Soccer - England v Iceland - EURO 2016 - Round of 16 - Stade de Nice, Nice, France - 27/6/16 England head coach Roy Hodgson REUTERS/Yves Herman Livepic
Football Soccer - England v Iceland - EURO 2016 - Round of 16 - Stade de Nice, Nice, France - 27/6/16England head coach Roy Hodgson REUTERS/Yves HermanLivepic

By Ed Dove

NICE, France (Reuters) - England's shock defeat by Iceland in Nice and subsequent Euro 2016 exit on Monday suggested that the British government isn't the only national institution threatened with a leadership vacuum.

Roy Hodgson's post-match resignation leaves the Football Association searching for a successor, but the national team's crisis of authority stretches beyond the dugout following another characterless display lacking in the mental qualities that have underpinned England's greatest football achievements.

"We haven't got leaders," former winger Chris Waddle told the BBC in the immediate aftermath of England's inglorious exit. "They're all pampered, they're all just headphones. They don't communicate on the pitch or off it.

"You can't get anything out of them," he added. "That's why we're no good."

Hodgson's players wilted after falling 2-1 behind, struggling to string passes together and failing to master basic techniques as the enormity of their impending exit dawned on them.

"Everyone was waiting for someone else to pull them out," Ian Wright said on British television. "They were petrified."

Next month, England will celebrate half a century since Bobby Moore, their greatest captain, lifted the World Cup on home soil in 1966.

Moore has been succeeded by the likes of Bryan Robson, Terry Butcher, Tony Adams and John Terry, all of whom took responsibility and guided the team through troubled spells.

Former defender Lee Dixon acknowledged that as a player he would turn to Adams for direction when England were struggling, while David Beckham -- who had a different approach to captaincy -- also showed leadership on the pitch, with notably decisive contributions steering the side to success against Greece and Argentina.

In Nice, Hodgson's side were rudderless.

Captain Wayne Rooney appeared to shrink on the day he equalled Beckham's record as England's most-capped outfield player, and was ultimately replaced by teenager Marcus Rashford.

"Normally, you might look at Rooney as the talisman of the team and he steps up to do something, as the character he is, with the amount of caps he has," Dixon added.

"But in the second half, I almost felt sorry (for him), everything he did seemed to come off his shin, everything went wrong for him."

"They needed a shake," added Wright.

Iceland goalscorer Ragnar Sigurdsson suggested that England "panicked" on the day, and it is important that the FA maintains a cool head when trying to solve the lack of clear authority off the pitch.

But the person they appoint as Hodgson's successor faces perhaps the trickier task of ending the leadership vacuum on it.

(Reporting by Ed Dove,; Editing by Neville Dalton)

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