Alan Biggs at Large: Chris Waddle’s England rant is just the tip of the iceberg after humiliating Euro 2016 exit

Chris Waddle
Chris Waddle
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Sheffield is the home of football. Iceland has less than two-thirds of its population – yet still enough to beat the country where the game was born.

Just one more incredible perspective on the state of England’s national team following what must rank as the biggest humiliation in our history.

And when it comes to making some sort of sense of England’s appalling exit from Euro 2016, one of Sheffield’s finest provides it.

You can rearrange Chris Waddle’s words in any order, they all ring true. “No leaders... they’re all just headphones... they’re all pampered... they don’t communicate on the pitch... they don’t communicate off the pitch.”

While you’re at it, rearrange the words “head”, “on”, “nail”, “the.” It’s not so much the talent we lack, as I think the Premier League regularly proves.

Neither do I believe in the old mantra of “paid too much to care or have any pride.” These players must be hurting, no-one likes being publicly humiliated; to get where they are, they must have shown the will to succeed.

As individuals. What they lack is the drive to win – as a group.

And what does that take? It needs leaders (note the plural), as former Wednesday idol Waddle so correctly and (important bit) so passionately said in the latest of his post-tournament radio rants.

So why haven’t we got them? I think it goes beyond a cultural generational thing. Maybe we are feeding it – by schooling leadership OUT of our kids in the club academies that, to use a Waddle word, “pamper” them.

Almost any academy coach, certainly those I’ve spoken to, will tell you it’s difficult, nay impossible, to impose anything like the discipline of old.

The upbringing is soft and there is a dearth of proper competitive football. It’s all skill and technique until – deprived of being toughened up by a kick or two – a talented Premier League youngster, barred from his club’s first team by an array of foreign stars, is loaned out to the Football League. Only then does he attend the hard school once provided by reserve team games.

But there is at least some hope in a realisation of this. Both Sheffield clubs are among 32 worldwide who will compete here in the city early in August in the Youdan Trophy, fast becoming one of the world’s biggest youth tournaments.

Yes, proper competitive football for Under 14 and Under 16 teams, an education in winning and losing provided by Sheffield based and backed by top BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson.

So another link to the national team right here where football was born. While we’re on the subject, we need more personality off the field as well as on it. Gareth Southgate leaves me cold as an “establishment” favourite to succeed Roy Hodgson, whose job simply can’t be going to somebody quietly working up through a flawed FA structure and without any significant club experience.

I’d go Arsene Wenger if he could be tempted. Or Slaven Bilic. We need a boss with an edge, arrogant or abrasive if necessary. Somebody in the mould of a Dave Bassett - or a Sam Allardyce perhaps? Neil Warnock was thrown up on Twitter as a sort of fun suggestion; I wasn’t laughing.

Someone of that sort of style and approach is needed, somebody with a fizz about them. For the sake of starting and ending with Sheffield Wednesday, I’ll mention Carlos Carvalhal.

Thankfully for the Owls, it won’t be him. But it will require something of his passion and charisma – to have any hope of leading a leaderless national team.