Wayne Rooney

The Inquest Begins After England’s Latest Faliure

What a difference a month can make. Going into the Euro 2016 tournament last month, most England fans were quietly confident about their chances. After a perfect qualifying campaign that saw them easily finish top the group with ten wins from ten games, along with a string of friendly victories, many thought this new, young generation of players would finally match expectations in a major tournament. How naïve we all were.

After three up and down group games, the team bowed out of the tournament in humiliating fashion against a team they were expected to easily overmatch, Iceland. England showed promise in their three group games, cruelly being denied in the final minutes of a significant opening game victory against Russia, unfortunately a game that was marred by fan violence both before and after the game.

The country rejoiced with Daniel Sturridge after his vital winner in the final seconds of a closely fought fixture with local rivals Wales, which put them in the driving seat for topping the group. Even with their final group game against a good Slovakia side, many felt they were unlucky to draw 0-0 against a very defensive minded side. So why did things go so badly wrong when they faced the lowest ranked side in the tournament in the first knockout round?

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Roy Hodgson looking dejected as the realisation we are about to go out to Iceland dawns on him. Was it at this point he was considering his future? Photo credit Associated Press.

 This is a question that will have everyone in the country talking for a long time, as they struggle to find out just what is the seeming England curse with major tournament football. Early casualties were the coaching staff, with manager Roy Hodgson and his coaching staff Gary Neville and Ray Lewington all resigning minutes after the final whistle in Nice. Many have now seriously questioned the tactics of Hodgson, with many feeling he simply did not know his best team or formation all tournament. This confusion over tactics has been attributed as part of our epic downfall, with confusion reigning amongst the fans and players, which contributed to the woeful performance put in on Monday night.

The most galling thing was that this time things were expected to be different. After the previous generation bowed out in the group stage of the World Cup two years ago, better things were expected with a new, young generation of players who have thrived in the Premier League for the past few seasons. With a vibrant and exciting young squad we hoped the curse of underperformance in the England shirt would have been rectified. We clearly still have some work to do to fix this.

Whilst the manager has taken a lot of the early criticism, the players deserve their equal share also. The performance against Iceland was beyond awful, with highly paid and experienced Champions League players struggling to make the simplest of passes. The worrying statistic is that in the game Marcus Rashford completed the most successful dribbles for England, and he was only on the pitch for five minutes.

We showed ourselves up with amateur defending from a set piece, something we knew Iceland used as their main tactic of scoring thanks to their long throws. With the second goal the England defenders seemed to be standing around waiting for someone else to make a tackle, before forlornly watching the ball roll past the soft hand of keeper Joe Hart. From this point onwards England never looked like scoring, with the only brief ray of hope being provided by subs Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford. The players sunk to their knees at the final whistle, although they deservedly heard chants of “your not fit to wear the shirt”, from the tired England fans.

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The England players dejected after their shocking 2-1 defeat to Iceland on Monday night. Photo sourced from Sky Sports.

England have embarrassed themselves both on and off the pitch this tournament, and it’s safe to say that no one will be unhappy to see us now travel home with our tail between our legs. The inquest is already beginning over the debacle this tournament, and a lot will need to change if England are to do well in a major tournament. We need to find a manager who can successfully motivate the squad whilst also find the perfect formation and starting eleven for us to do well. Many have insisted it has to be an English manager, but after several tries with this method can we not simply accept that it should be the best man for the job, irrespective of whether he’s English or not?

We will need to keep faith with this young squad, as we do have some really promising players who many not recover if we heavily criticise them now. If we can get them playing in the manner they do with their clubs, we will go far. Maybe this latest disappointment will be wake up call we need to show that we have been expecting too much from the England team for numerous tournaments. It’s clear we are nowhere near as good as we expected, and maybe in future we need to temper our expectations to avoid any potential disappointment.

Where do England go from here? What are your thoughts on what went wrong in the Euro’s? Comment below and thank you for reading.

 

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David Moyes: Doomed from the start

Just less than a year ago the future appeared very rosy for David Moyes. After 11 successful years he was leaving Everton a club legend to take over as the hallowed Manchester United manager after being hand picked by Sir Alex Ferguson. When he was announced as the new Man Utd manager on the 9th May 2013 the press conference contained lots of talk from both sides about the succession plan Man Utd put in place with this appointment. After being personally chosen by Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes seemed the perfect man to carry on the vast achievements of Manchester United into a new era. A 6 year deal with the opportunity to earn £5 million a year with bonuses was a perfect validation to their succession talk. Yet as of yesterday David Moyes is unemployed and Man Utd are facing having to pay him off £5 million until he finds himself a new job. What went so wrong for Moyes in only 10 months?

First lets look at purely his results over the 10 months. After starting well with comfortable Community Shield and opening day premier league wins things got progressively worse from here. He led United to their worst ever league start with defeats to bitter local rivals Manchester City 4-1 and a 2-1 home defeat to lowly West Brom heaped the pressure on Moyes early on. After a relatively stable few months December saw them suffer successive home defeats to Everton and Newcastle, the first time Man Utd had lost consecutive home premier league games since the 2001 season. This left the team languishing at this point in 9th, yet after only 15 games the team were 13 points behind leaders Arsenal. Here’s a picture of Moyes in happier times with the Community shield trophy.

Compounding their awful league form were exits from the F.A Cup in the third round at home to Swansea 2-1, defeat in the Capital One Cup semi-final to Premier League dwellers Sunderland and finally comfortably being outclassed in the Champions League Quarter- Final to Bayern Munich. The tension reached fever pitch as fans responded to successive 3-0 home defeats to hated rivals Liverpool and Manchester City, by flying a banner over Old Trafford before the next home game against Aston Villa calling for Moyes to leave the club. Here’s a link to a Youtube video report on the banner incident. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQZ77mPMdCA

After a slight recent turn around Sunday’s comprehensive trouncing by Everton 2-0 brought the tension back around Moyes. He believed however that despite the poor results to this point he would receive the board’s backing until at least the summer transfer window. On the other hand, the board seemed to want swift action as over the course of the following Bank Holiday Monday rumors became increasingly persistent that Moyes would be imminently sacked. The rumors were proved true early yesterday morning as it was finally announced Moyes had been sacked after only 10 months in charge.

Now we’ve established the results that got him sacked let’s now try to explain firstly why these individual results happened and secondly how the end result of his sacking came about so soon. Firstly let’s look at the task he actually took on becoming Manchester United manager. He faced the unenviable task of being the Man Utd manager after Sir Alex Ferguson. After Ferguson’s mammoth 26 and a half year reign which yielded an astonishing 38 trophies in 26 years, including 13 Premier League titles and 2 Champions League’s. Therefore with United fans accustomed to so much recent success Moyes was coming into a job with probably one of the highest levels of expectation in world football.

This would be something new for Moyes to deal with as he had arrived from Everton, a club who had rather more modest expectations to which Moyes would regularly over achieve. Inadvertently Sir Alex had also heaped even more pressure on Moyes by being so public with his view that Moyes was the perfect man to succeed him as part of the succession plan.

Another factor behind the downfall in results for United has to be the relative weakness of the current squad in comparison with other top 4 sides. This may seem a slightly ridiculous statement considering the squad possesses quality players such as Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, David De Gea and Patrice Evra. Yet around these players the rest of the squad seems slightly lower on all round quality in comparison with the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool. Part of the problem seems to be the fact Man Utd have an ageing squad yet the younger players coming through seem to struggle slightly to take over from the older players. Examples of this are surely the likes of Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Alex Buttner. Whilst all of them are good players they have under performed this season and appear unlikely to play to the level of those their taking over from such as Vidic,Giggs and and Evra respectively.

The point about under performing players above doesn’t only apply to some of the younger players this season. Another factor behind the downfall of Manchester United this season appears to be a combination of Moyes not being able to get the best out of his squad alongside a reluctance on the players part to play under Moyes. Rumors are circling in the aftermath of his sacking that Moyes was never able to get the respect and influence over some of the high profile players such as Wayne Rooney.

Whilst all of the recent points have been based around the actions of Moyes or the players themselves the club does not come out of this sacking blameless. Indeed it was their big talk of a succession plan that set expectations that were too high for Moyes as I explained above. Also the lack of overall quality in the squad could have been addressed in the summer transfer window before the nightmare season even started.Over the summer Moyes and the club made ham fisted attempts to sign Cesc Fabregas, Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini, of which they only signed Fellaini in a deadline day deal worth £27.5 million pounds.

Again in the January window they only made the one signing splashing out on Juan Mata from Chelsea for £37.1 million pounds. Whilst these are both great players their first season can only be described as a disappointment as they have failed to produce much as they struggled to fit into the Moyes system Manchester United were playing. So although it’s early on it seems these two transfers are going the way of failed expectations there were plenty more signings the club failed to complete for a number of players undisclosed to the public.

Whilst many will try to pin the reasoning why Moyes failed at Manchester United down to one thing it appears there were several factors which meant he was doomed from the start. First the increased pressure and expectation as the club made sure the world knew Moyes was pre-approved by the legend Sir Alex Ferguson as the right man for the succession plan carrying on his reign. Whilst they backed him here they didn’t complete the deals he wanted in the transfer windows leaving him with an ageing squad and a fan base with high expectations.

It should therefore no surprise that Moyes was unable to carry on the success of Ferguson, yet everyone around the club appeared to be completely shocked by this. Whether this was delusional or simply not with the times doesn’t really matter, either in a damning indictment of those around the club. Once things began to tail off the players appeared to lose respect for Moyes and didn’t want to give 100% for a manager they questioned. Also the club didn’t cover itself in glory by dithering with his sacking with Moyes appearing to find out the news he was going to be sacked first from social media on Monday afternoon. Therefore it was all of these factors that contributed to the demise of Moyes with the chain of events being set in motion the day he was announced as the successor to Sir Alex Ferguson. Indeed, both sides have come out of this looking rather less respectable than when they started and for sure it will take a number of years at least for both sides to move past this nightmare.