Nick Matthew column: Odd decision-making and a lack of strategy to blame for England's last 16 Euros exit
It was amazing how quickly things took a turn for the worst for England in the European Championships.
During the group stages, everyone thought we played well and enjoyed lots of possession. We just missed a cutting edge up front. People kept on saying we needed to get an early goal but it didn’t do us much good in our last 16 defeat to Iceland.
When I pass comment on other sports, I try to be constructive. I have just started reading England psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters’ book ‘The Chimp Paradox’ and I try not to let my inner chimp come out too quickly.
What struck me about England’s performance in the tournament was that we didn’t seem to have any strategy or structure to how we played.
For example, Roy Hodgson decided to play a 4-3-3 formation. He wanted to control the midfield, with Eric Dier playing just in front of the back.
Hodgson knows a lot more than I do but you need two really good wingers to play that system well. He selected only one winger in his entire squad in Raheem Sterling and he was out of form and low on confidence. Against Iceland, he played him and Daniel Sturridge out wide.
Why weren’t Theo Walcott or Andros Townsend included in the squad? Walcott didn’t have the best of seasons for Arsenal but he’s a better right winger than Sturridge, who is a centre forward.
To me, there were a number of square pegs in round holes. I don’t mind if we aren’t good enough and do our best but some of the management team’s decision-making was odd. Why, for example, was Harry Kane taking corners in the first game against Russia when he’s never ever taken one for Tottenham?
We moved Wayne Rooney into midfield just before the start of the tournament. Before this summer, he hadn’t played for his country in that position. Where was the planning? We needed a goal late on versus Iceland so why did we taker off our all time record goal-scorer? There was no clear plan or identity.
What was the point in taking players who had not played all season in Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere? Why did we not take a couple more wingers or Danny Drinkwater or a Mark Noble who had great seasons? We should have taken in-form players.
We didn’t seem to have a clue what we were doing and when we went behind against Iceland, we ran around like headless chickens. There was no shape and people didn’t seem to know what we were doing. It was schoolground stuff.
All the teams who have done well in the tournament like Germany, Italy and Wales have had a clear plan and identity.
I would love an Englishman to replace Hodgson but there aren’t many candidates aside from Glenn Hoddle and Harry Redknapp. Hoddle always talks a lot of sense and has an unbelievable tactical brain. He has been out of management a long time so who knows whether he can engage with the modern footballer,.
Judging by how well the England cricket and rugby teams are doing at the moment, maybe we should look to see if there is an Australian coach who can manage England!