What next for the English national team?
It has been a tough last few days for England. Friday saw them leaving the European Union and on Monday, they were knocked out of Euro 2016 by minnows Iceland. The Wayne Rooney led star-studded English side produced an insipid performance as their opponents coasted to a 2-1 win.
Ever since the draw for the Round of 16 was made, there was a general perception among the English that they will be safely progressing to the last eight. For the majority, the game against Iceland was the “easy option” as there was the possibility of them facing Portugal in the pre-quarters. However, the events of Monday night provided a rude shock to many and can well be termed as the “darkest hour in English football.”
The English for a long time have been suffering from a sense of hyperbole and overconfidence. The “Remain” camp were certain of a win until reality bit them hard. The “Leave” camp exaggerated the benefits of leaving the European Union and just two days’ post the results, there have been calls for a second referendum. The English media, like it always does, created a hype surrounding the football side. The team had the likes of Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy. How could they fail?
There can be no doubt that this is a talented English side. But then talent does not guarantee results. In spite of having two of the most prolific goalscorers in Vardy and Kane, the team failed to find the back of the net which is perhaps the most fundamental aspect of the game. Over the years England have struggled to find their Qualifying campaign form in the major tournaments and this makes something very clear. There is something fundamentally wrong with the English football setup.
Who after Hodgson?
And the Football Association will have to get down to work to rectify this issue. Manager Roy Hodgson handed in his papers post the defeat thereby bringing to an end a rather tumultuous reign at the helm of affairs. The ex-Liverpool manager was never the right man for the job to begin with. The search for a new manager begins and already a few names have cropped up.
The likes of Alan Pardew, Eddie Howe and Gary Neville are said to be in the mix. Brendan Rodgers’ name has also come up but having recently taken charge at Celtic, it is unlikely that this is going to materialise. The bookmakers have however made the England U-21 boss, Gareth Southgate the favourite to take charge.
Southgate did lead to the young lads to glory last summer but certainly lacks the calibre for a job which has often been termed as the “epitome of an English manager’s career.” Similarly, Gary Neville also lacks the ability to take over such a big responsibility.
He endured a disastrous four months at Valencia and it will take something special for him to get the job. Eddie Howe is too young but could be a target in the future. Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce are perhaps the best people available for the job. Glenn Hoddle could also be an interesting choice.
England begin their World Cup qualifying campaign later this year and a new manager should be appointed well before the first game.
Is this the end of the road for Wayne Rooney?
Apart from the manager, the players will also have to take a lot of responsibility for the embarrassing performance. And Wayne Rooney being the leader of the pack will have to bear the brunt of the vast amounts of criticism hurled at the players.
The Manchester United forward had another forgettable international tournament which over the years has become a trend. Even for the Red Devils, Rooney has lacked the cutting edge that differentiated him from the rest.
While he has Jose Mourinho to help him out at United, it doesn’t seem there will be someone of a similar stature taking over the Three Lions’ job. Rooney has served his country to the best of his ability. It is time for him to move on. The Harry Kanes and the Dele Allis are the future.
On Monday night, as Gunnarsson and company celebrated with their fans, on the other side of the pitch, the likes of Hart, Cahill and Alli bore dejected faces and one could not help but realise that the European Championship is moving ahead to the quarter-final stage and England are not a part of it. Similarly, in a year’s time, England will once again be left behind as Europe, as a whole, moves ahead and nations stand united to face the uncertainties of the future.