As we try to pick up the pieces after England’s most shambolic loss in their footballing history, it is difficult to know what the next steps for the Three Lions are. There is likely to be a lot of “rip it up and start over again” in the media and you are likely to see the words “grassroots” and “small-sided games” emblazoned in many a newspaper article. At Bespoke, we won’t be as radical as that but instead offer 5 simple steps that England need to take in order to put this horrific ordeal behind them.
HIRE A GOOD MANAGER
Evidently this easier said than done, but the next managerial move is crucial. The squad isn’t as terrible as their showings at the Euros might have you believe, so there is a solid foundation for the next manager to work with. Roy Hodgson made a litany of errors during the Euros despite receiving a period of grace after the group stage exit in the 2014 World Cup. There seems to be a preference towards going for an English manager again, namely Gareth Southgate, and this could be a risky move. Whilst “Going Foreign” isn’t always a guarantee of success, the FA must not rule out anyone who is clearly the superior candidate, just because they’re not English.
EXPERIMENT WITH A NEW KEEPER
With Joe Hart mounting a late charge to surpass Raheem Sterling as the official tournament scapegoat, we are bound to see many calls for him to be banished from the squad until the end of time, however it doesn’t need to be that drastic. It must be remembered that Hart came to prominence at a time where there were no other viable alternatives to play in goal and had never really made any mistakes at international level to warrant his dropping. This meant that when the likes of Butland and Forster emerged, they had to bide their time because Hart was installed as the default number one. Now there is very little to suggest that Hart is a better keeper than either of those two and as such now is the perfect time to give an alternative a run in the England goal. It was a particularly damning tournament for Hart who did not make a save that you wouldn’t have expected him to, and routinely made a hash of simple goalkeeping that one would expect him to deal with. Whoever the new manager is might not completely replace him, but a spell on the bench akin to his run of poor form at Man City might help to improve his concentration
PUT GARY CAHILL OUT TO PASTURE
Hart stole all the headlines with his shocking keeping, but Iceland’s winner will make for grim viewing for Gary Cahill. It has become a familiar sight to see the Chelsea man’s body contorted as strikers bamboozle him and he is someone the next manager should look to gradually phase out within the next two years. Stones is the heir apparent but there is hardly a successor screaming out to be selected given the dearth of good English centre backs at present. The qualifiers should be a relatively gentle affair in which a new centre back can be blooded without facing too much of a tough inquisition.
ROONEY TO RESIGN AS CAPTAIN
The analysis of whether Rooney actually had a good tournament and whether he can genuinely play as a centre midfielder will rumble on for many more weeks, but I think he still has something to offer this England squad. Exactly what that something is needs to be determined but I don’t think he needs to be culled entirely from the squad just yet. What he does however need to do is relinquish the captaincy. Rooney may or may not be in England’s best XI but his position at captain guarantees him a start and that inflexibility may prove to be costly by the time 2018 rolls around. A decade ago, David Beckham came to a similar conclusion and gave up the captaincy, however Steve McClaren threw the baby out with the bathwater and dropped Becks altogether. Given Rooney’s experience in relation to the rest of the squad, he should probably hang around for a bit, but should not be the first name on the teamsheet. The only problem is finding a player who should play every game to be captain…Eric Dier perhaps?
PICK A SYSTEM, STICK WITH IT AND PICK THE RIGHT PLAYERS FOR IT
This probably goes back to the “get a good manager” point and is equally as obvious/seemingly hard to implement, but the indecisiveness of England in the last month or so has been a joke. England seem to be forever falling into the trap of unearthing several good players and being determined to shoehorn them into the team at any cost. Jamie Vardy hardly had a touch in the tournament and the only situation that really demanded his skill set, the minutes England were ahead against Russia, he was not called upon. Hodgson elected to utilise a system that required two wide men, so he picked one winger and struggled for alternatives when Sterling lost form. Ross Barkley did not play a single second of this tournament (whether that was right or wrong is down to you to decide) but surely his place would’ve been better filled by Andros Townsend? Unsurprisingly, Sturridge did not work as a wide player and Vardy did not work when there was no space in behind. Kane did not work at all and no matter who played in midfield, the combination seemed off. The new boss must select a system and then pick the best players for it, regardless if they are nominally the best players in the team or not. I look at Ireland leaving their most talented player, Wes Hoolahan, on the bench frequently because tactically he’s not the right fit for a lot of their games, or Giaccherini keeping Insigne/El Sharaawy out of Italy’s team because of his ability to adhere to Antonio Conte’s instructions.