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De-Ja Vu for England

By Mohamed Jaward Nyallay 

Let’s start by figuring out the answers to these questions. How does a nation that invented football suffer one of the most humiliating defeats in the history of the game?

How does Europe’s highest paid manager get kicked in the teeth by a part time Dentist? And

How does a nation with a population as around Leicester’s, ice a mighty football nation like England in a major tournament?

The questions could keep coming on and on, but the answers would definitely not match them.

In a week when the kingdom had already voted to quit the European Union, they were also iced on Monday to exit the Euro 2016. The People’s will; true to their word. Aren’t they?

The 1950 loss to USA in Belo Horizonte was humiliating. But this one against Iceland comes at a time when the English Premier League is a global industry; making it the most humiliating defeat ever in the history of England.

2006, 2010, 2012, 2014 and that horrible Monday night in Nice, in 2016 are all the years that England have underperformed in major tournaments. This has now become a pattern of consistent failure.

Since the country won the 1966 World Cup, they have only won six knock out matches in all the tournaments that they have taken part in. put it simple, the last 50 years has been nothing but wretched for England’s international football.



What is responsible? A pile of rubbish, cluelessness, indecision and pampering by the FA, the coaches and the media; those are the factors responsible.

Forget Roy Hodgson for God sake, he is gone. He was a genuine expensive failure of a manager. He could only manage 3 wins in 11 tournament games.

After three tournaments? That was enough!

Names like Gareth Southgate, the England Under 21 boss; Alan Pardew, the Crystal Palace manager and even former boss Glen Hoddle have all popped up as his replacement. Whether anyone of them is fit I am not sure.

Southgate has a decent run with the boys, having won 26 out of his 33 games in charge with them. But the national team is a different ball game all together. He is young and hungry but experience could be his major challenge. This England team is talented but broken, they need an experienced head to fix and lead it.

Alan Pardew want the job, he really does. He has shown some ambitions about it in the past. He is a manager with a decent philosophy, but at club level. How that would be transferred to the England set up?  Again, his appointment could become a question of no significant international experience.

Glen Hoddle. Can you believe it? Very few have actually thought about him, until former England player and TV pundit, Ray Wilkins threw his name in to the fray.

He was the manager of England from 1996 to 1999. With him there is no question of experience, but the guy has not been in football management for a decade now. How on earth can he pull this team out of its misery?

And please don’t mention Gary Neville, not after the job he did at Valencia. He is equally as culpable as Roy in this latest catastrophe.

Former Tottenham boss, Harry Redknapp has shared his deep skepticism over the capability of the Football Association (FA)  to get the right to succeed Roy.

“The FA are genuinely going to have to pull a rabbit out of the hat because there does not seem to be any obvious contenders out there for me,” Redknapp wrote in the Telegraph.

Current captain of the side, Wayne Rooney has hinted that an English manager could be better. The last English coach that England had before Roy was Steve McLaren. On his watch the team failed to qualify for the Euro 2008. He and Roy are the last two English managers and they have failed spectacularly.

This is not to say that the last two foreign coaches, Fabio Capello and Sven Goran Erikson were significantly successful either, but at least they could drag the team to the Quarter final stage of the World Cup.

Anyway, sentiments aside, the search is on.


But what happens next, after Roy is replaced. Is it the end, or the start of another failing cycle?

There are bigger problems to address behind the changing of managers. Steven Gerrard is the former captain of England; he has seen it all as player for the national team. In fact he led the England team to the 2014 World Cup, in which they lasted just 8 days after the tournament started.

He believes it is not a question of whether the team has enough talents or they are willing to play or not. For him that is unquestionable.

But wrote that there is a culture of expectation on the team that has consistently terrified the team and for every time the team find itself in a losing position , that burden of expectation just cripples it.

“There is no environment of calm around the national team, it is always hysteria. There is a culture of fear within and it has not been addressed.” He wrote in the Telegraph.

The sensational coverage of England by media outlets like the BBC and Sky Sport has contributed immensely to the sort of culture Gerrard is referring to.

No one could blame the country for having the world’s premier media institutions, but striking the balance between how they are covered and when is going to be very important in the future of the England team.

Every move by the players is interpreted with a thousand and one opinions. The players public act are almost tailed by the FA media experts to a point where you cannot separate a PR stunt by the players from a real act.

Under Roy, delivery lines for press conferences were written by the team’s media experts, rather than trusting the players to talk on their own. Such was the precision of coverage that the team sought.

All that coverage, runs right through the minds of the players. They tend to enjoy it until when they are under pressure to perform, as they were on Monday night.

Hence you go behind to a team like Iceland; you try really hard at first. Then you start forcing issues, ignoring the simple decisions on the pitch, going for the spectacular and even bursting with frustration. In nerve racking moments like that, just when you need to keep your cool you just explode.

It is not the ball or your colleague that did not run to space, it is the headlines running through your head, when they the team will set foot in England the next day.

Gerrard says sometimes the pressure gets so much that the team would freeze. Such is the pressure, one might say it is always like that because of the clout of the country as a football nation. It is understandable, but such pressure could be avoided if party’s like the media tone down the rhetoric a little bit.

Going forward the FA need to fix the psyche of the players. How could they flourish in the world’s best league for 9 months and then wither away so fast in a one month tournament?  Year in year out .

For a start they need to get a good manager, the FA has confirmed that nationality would be no barrier. But bring us a winner, not a promising coach or a guy with a decent CV.

This team deserves better.


(C) Politico 30/06/16