Now the Euro Brexit for the pampered products of England’s failed academy

Bravo George Caulkin, self-described ‘chronicler of misery for The Times (North East football, mainly)’, for that clever piece of gallows humour tweeting. And now over to Pete Sixsmith, our own chronicler of doom punctuated by the odd shaft of light. Watching England was indeed like watching Sunderland for the first 30 games of most seasons. Sixer rises from his sick bed after a week of pain and discomfort to carry out his own Ofsted inspection ..

And so it came to pass that on a hot night on the Côte d’Azur, the English Academy System showed a grinning, chuckling Europe that it was not fit for any kind of purpose other than to turn out preening pirouetters, sulky stepover merchants and heads down midfielders plus a goalkeeper who, if he spent as much time on practising his basic skills instead of flogging shampoo, might just merit a place on the bench at Middlesbrough.

Playing against a highly motivated, brilliantly organised and very accomplished group of grown men, these professional babies with their ultra-comfortable life styles and their reliance on other people to do the hard jobs for them crumbled and eventually fell apart in a performance that showed just how utterly useless this country is at producing anything other than show ponies.

The now departed head coach had decided not to watch Iceland in their final group game, delegating it instead to his assistants and having some much needed “sightseeing” time in Paris.

Had he bothered to watch them instead of strolling down the Boulevard Saint-Michel and sampling the odd croque monsieur, he might just have been able to devise a plan that the babies under his avuncular (and ultimately failed) command, might just have been able to implement.

The look on the faces of the England players when Iceland scored the second goal summed up English football. It read: “What do we do now?”

Most sides would have pulled themselves together, given their collective heads a shake and gone on to win the game. But not this lot.

They looked around for someone to tell them what to do. And answer came there none, neither on the field nor in the dressing room at half time. If the first half was bad, the second half was a catastrophe.

Pride, Passion, Style here #EURO16 @Classicshirts
Next up for Iceland. Pride, passion, style from our pals at Classic Football Shirts

We had seen Sturridge and his shimmies as he tried and failed to go round a resolute Icelander. We had seen Sterling’s stepovers as he ran down yet another blind alley. We had seen the much vaunted Kane, the dead ball expert, waste every one that he took.

What we didn’t see was a coherent attacking force and a tight defence with a midfield that seized the initiative and put opponents on the back foot. Iceland defended because they wanted to, because they were good at it and because they knew that England were not good enough to
break them down.

Icelanders wait for news from NiceVestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The Premier League, with its money and its hype has much to answer for.

Players like Kane and Sterling rely on non-English players to be the heartbeat of the club sides they play for. That allows them to develop those stepovers and shimmies and to make people think that they are world beaters when in fact they are successful on the backs of others.

Three hours earlier, the Italians had produced the performance of the tournament, when their team of grown men had dumped the holders out.

Their coach had told them what to do and they followed his instructions to the letter. They defended as a unit, worked incredibly hard in midfield and had two forwards who ran their hearts out.

When they sent a sub on, it was one man replacing another. We put Jack Wilshere on.
M’lud, I rest my case.

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Sixer: 'and there was me thinking the pain couldn't get any worse'
Sixer: ‘and there was me thinking the pain couldn’t get any worse’

16 thoughts on “Now the Euro Brexit for the pampered products of England’s failed academy”

  1. A big downside to the European exit is that I am beginning to worry about the amount of publicity favouring Sam Allardyce to become the next manager of the national side. As someone who was initially doubtful that he was the right man for Sunderland I have been won over by the improvements since his appointment.

    The team has improved no end. Team spirit seems to be at an all time high with the current squad of regular players showing determination and commitment to the cause. Like many other supporters I can see a decent transfer window providing a platform for bigger and better things with Allardyce in charge. The last thing we need now is another change of leadership.

    The fact that Ladbrokes think Hodgson’s next job is most likely to be at Sunderland AFC is also cause for worry – unless that is they think he might work with the Under 8 squad before their half time kick abouts.

  2. Every year it’s the same thing, we pick players based on their name and who they play for. The philosophy is always “well, he plays for Liverpool/Man Utd/Arsenal/etc, ergo he must be world class and must be in the team”, regardless of whether they’re performing/fit. Usually at the expense of someone at a “lesser” club who is on fire.

    Look at Rooney, did he go because he’s had a great season, or because he’s Wayne Rooney? A few seasons ago, at club level, he seemed unstoppable, but always failed when it came to the crunch at international level? Why? Look at Man Utd in the last 3 seasons, they’re a team in decline, this isn’t because Rooney is in decline, Rooney isn’t declining, he’s the same player he was (albeit slower). The difference is, he no longer has real world class players around him to make him look world class, which is exactly the situation he’s always found himself in at England. So now, we’re seeing the real Rooney for club and country, and the truth is, he’s just a good, not spectacular English striker. The fact people mention him in the same breath as Ronaldo, Messi, Zlatan, et al is laughable.

    It’s a similar story for the rest of them, they look better at club level because they have real class around them, sadly, that real class isn’t English.

    I would argue that the players who look good at the “lesser” clubs are better suited to the international tournaments as they constantly play AGAINST the world class opposition they’ll face in them.

    Something needs to change, keep the U21s together, make them play tournaments together so they learn to deal with pressure, and make it worth the while of the premier league clubs to play them regularly so their development isn’t stunted by cheap imports.

    Copy Germany. There’s a reason why they always succeed, and it’s not luck.

  3. Well. If you Voted Brexit. Hodgson leads the way. Please, do not take Big Sam from us England. He is a nice guy and does not need that nasty job.

  4. Among the tweets going around today:

    “Lads, I only supported Iceland because I didn’t understand what it meant. I didn’t think they would ACTUALLY WIN.”

    “England team now feel they were misled about consequences of letting goals in, didn’t think other team would actually win.”

    “Wherever I go in the world now I’m going to speak French and pretend to be Belgian.”

    “We’re just letting Iceland win so they’ll trade with us right?”

    “Boris has just announced we are three nil up. Relax.”

    “I for one expect the English football team to thrive outside the regulatory constraints of this tournament.”

    “Not been this embarrassed to be English since Friday.”

  5. Did you notice how perfect Joe Hart’s barnet was in his interview? Got to get the important things right!

  6. I heard the commentators banging on about us needing more width. Well, if he’d taken any actual wingers, we might have had some. Sterling isn’t a winger. He doesn’t want to be one. He wants to be Ronaldo, Messi or Neymar: stopping and attempting little shimmies, instead of taking people on and putting crosses in, like an actual winger would. He’s still quite young, so maybe he can be coached. But he seems incredibly arrogant, so I’m not sure if he’ll be open to learn, but he needs to, as Pep won’t stand for it. He’s not afraid to axe player who aren’t doing what he wants.

    But I think the biggest two problems were: not picking in form players and not picking players to fit the system we wanted to play. Roy did everything possible to fit Rooney into the first team, going so far as to actually play him in midfield. He’s played that role maybe a dozen times for United last season, yet Roy thought that was enough to play at an International tournament, instead of playing actual Midfielders, who know the role. He was picked purely on who he is, not on form. Same goes for Wilshire, Sterling, Barkley etc.

    I think Rooney should do the decent thing and follow Messi into international retirement. Only then will future England managers/coaches be free to pick the best in form players for the system they want to play, instead of trying to shoehorn Rooney into the system, just because he’s Wayne Rooney. At the moment, any manager who drops him, would be pilloried by the press/pundits, and would be lucky to last a single game in charge.

    There should be a rule that, unless you play at least X number of games (maybe 25) in a season, you aren’t considered for the national side. No matter who you are.

    But hey, that’s just my thought. Hopefully the next England boss will do better. I’m not sure they could do any worse.

    All the best.

  7. Apparently, Hodgson had dismissed the idea of actually watching the Iceland-Austria game, rather than riding around on an open-top tour bus, as “laughable.” And, unless he whipped it together at half-time (it’s hard to believe him capable of thinking that quickly), his little resignation speech had obviously been prepared before the England debacle. That appears to have been the extent of his preparation – to be ready to be quit as soon as the inevitable happened and his team was beaten.Nothing like having a good defensive strategy…

  8. It was great to see the Vikings destroy the prima donnas.

    Italy’s performance was a masterclass in tactical nous.

    I’m shocked that none of the FA guardians of the national game have resigned…..

  9. And so the cycle starts again. Numerous victories in an easy WC qualifying group. Another “golden generation” built up to be world beaters, the World Cup’s coming home blah de blah. It feels like UEFA and FIFA want us to qualify but then take great delight in seeing our early exit. When we land in Russia for the next tournament tell the pilot to leave the engine running.

  10. World cup qualifiers start soon my team would be Pickford/Foster Walker Stones Smalling Rose Llalana Rooney Drinkwater Alli Vardy Carroll subs Pickford/Foster/Heaton Shaw Bertrand Sturridge Wiltshire Rashford and Henderson with Stuart Pearce and Glenn Hoddle in charge

  11. All these comments are spot on Drinkwater Catts Andros Townsend and maybe even Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll would have been better choices Kane Sterling Wiltshire not up to it the guys who didn’t even get a chance will be thinking hang on I could have done better I personally don’t like Llalana but he was our best player by a long long way we now need to do a Germany and start from scratch start with a backbone of Pickford Smalling (capt) and Vardy build around those three I say

  12. Wonderfully funny and aptly cynical. I feel so much better for having read that.
    I can be as patriotic as anyone watching english/british men and women striving for glory, whether rugby, cricket, cycling, rowing, tennis or curling; I share their joy and despair.
    When it comes to footy, I feel only schadenfreude. There’s little joy in winning, not only because it seldom happens, but because then we’ll have someone like bobby charlton saying that they’re world beaters; the whole cycle of building them up to be something they’re not begins again.
    On a more positive note, where do we go from here? There’ll be a new manager – perhaps an alan pardew (I really would like to be positive) – and let’s hope the f.a. doesn’t notice that we have a very good man who could do as good a job as anyone.
    Players like catts and drinkwater still won’t get a look in and we’ll carry on along the same lines.
    But what if we followed the German model when they failed some years ago – root and branch reform with an emphasis on coaching. We were informed 6 years ago and again in 2014, that Germany, Italy, Spain and France each had about 30,000 qualified coaches; at the same time, we had some 3,500.
    Is this not the right place to start?

  13. Sixer as usual hits the nail on the head. There must be fans up and down the country scratching their heads at the selection of a player who started one (yes one) game for his club last season ahead of others who made a tremendous contribution to their team’s campaign in the heart of midfield.

    In our case it would be Lee Cattermole, in Leicester City’s Danny Drinkwater. There will be others at other clubs. Those type of players may not be media darlings but they would not have rolled over and capitulated the way the England midfield did last night.

    And if Joe Hart spent as much time practising his goalkeeping skills as he does getting in referees’ faces!

    Oh and a bit off piste – it looks like Joe Root needs a break. Last couple of games he seems worn out.

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