I had decided to give you - and myself - a break from these posts during The Euro's. My thinking was that so much can change so quickly during tournaments that snap judgements probably weren't a good idea. Sorry, I couldn't resist after last night's shambles.
I'll give you an example - Wayne Rooney. I was one of one arguing before the tournament that he had to go - not just go, but start. And start every game. So I understood Roy Hodgson, who was Rooney's biggest fan, raising an eye brow when my colleagues in the English press were outraged that he was left out of the game against Slovakia!
Having said that, I was never convinced that Hodgson wanted to start Rooney. I believe he felt it was a risk too far not to. But he took him off in the first game v Russia, as if to make a statement. Why? Rooney was our leader. Up to the point that he went off he was our best player. He was certainly our most experienced player. For me, once he'd left the field, the early signs of our inexperience were laid bare. Russia capitalised.
You see, that's the problem with youth. There's a lot of energy. A lot of excitable belief, but absolutely NO experience. That's a commodity you can't buy. England were well short in that department. Well short - and I said it from the moment Hodgson was bullied down that path by the English press.
I'm a big fan of Hodgson's - as most people know. I believe he's an honourable, decent man. I believed he had a backbone. That he was his own man. That he could make big decisions. I was wrong in nearly all of that. Decent and honourable he is, but I couldn't have been more disappointed that he started to play the 'populist' card to avoid criticism.
Here's a couple of further examples. Hodgson believed the way for England to play at these Championships was with a diamond, so that he could get two strikers up top. He went in like that in our last warm up friendly v Portugal. It didn't necessarily work, the press criticised, so he changed his mind. But he'd already decided on his personnel for France, including Jack Wilshere, who likes that system, so he was stuck.
Remember the ludicrous sight of our centre forward taking corners against Russia? Hodgson was roundly condemned for that piece of nonsense, but went public and strongly defended the decision. So, we were expecting Kane to take corners against Wales weren't we? (Actually I wasn't, and I said so before the game on beINSports). Wrong, six minutes in, Rooney was taking them. Hodgson had buckled under pressure again. He wanted to both make and keep friends.
In all the obit's I've read about Hodgson's time as England manager, one argument keeps cropping up - 'he never knew his best team'. I believe he did. He just didn't have the balls to play it and therefore he ended up with the compromised shambles that we saw at these championships.
He had to go. No question. But I'm sorry it ended as it did. He deserves better from his career than to be remembered like this.
Oh, one other example of Hodgson playing the 'populist' card - Gary Neville. I've never wavered from my view that it was impossible for Neville to work on tv - whoever it was he worked for - and also to be a coach. It was a ridiculous concept. I don't know Gary like I know Phil, but having had a conversation with Hodgson about that decision, I do know that it was made to play to the gallery. He'd seen him on tv, he felt that Gary, a United legend, would bring supportive public opinion on board his coaching team. I warned Hodgson of the dangers, and his FA PR team over a lunch in London's Oxo Tower. They didn't want to listen. Well, what a disastrous six months for Gary, who doesn't lack confidence in his own ability, nor his ability to tell everybody else what they're doing wrong. I always argued that he couldn't serve two masters - tv and football - at the same time. He simply didn't have enough time to do either job properly. Or be honest in either role. I remember him savaging David de Gea very publicly about decision making, but I've never heard a whisper about Joe Hart. How could he criticise Hart publicly one week and meet up with him with England the next? What would he have made of Hart's contribution at Euro 2016 had he been in a tv studio instead of in the bench last night?
I believe Gary to be a 'bright young thing'. I hope he continues his career in coaching. We need X-pro's like him prepared to give it a go, but it will mean him staying off tv screens. I repeat - it's one thing or the other - not both.
I've read all sorts of reasons for England's pathetic performances at 2016 - and pathetic they were. We scored just four goals - a pen, we got lucky with Vardy's v Wales, there was a scrambled winner in that same game and a set piece v Russia. Not good enough. Nowhere near good enough.
We were second best v Wales. We didn't do enough v Russia and we ran round like half decent Championship footballers v Slovakia. We didn't scare anybody, except perhaps, ourselves.
I've always maintained that playing for England is 'scary'. It's a chore for the modern day player. Ask Gerrard's generation if they enjoyed it. No, they didn't. It's a huge burden pulling on an England shirt. It's a no win. Players don't want to do it. It's a point I put to Andrew Cole earlier in the tournament, in beINSports, because I've always argued with Andy Gray about the point. Andy can't believe that players don't want to put the jersey on. Coley agreed 100% with me. It's not a theory by the way - it's a conversation I've had with many of them. Who would want to volunteer for the hammering they get from the English media every time they play? Why do it? Why put yourself up for it? Trust me, it's going to become an increasing problem.
I don't buy into Rio Ferdinand's theory that our P Lge tires players out either. There were 140 or more from the P Lge at this tournament - how come only England's players get tired at the end of our season? Even if you believe in Ferdinand's argument, Lallana couldn't have been tired, he wasn't a regular at Liverpool. Sterling certainly wasn't at City. Rooney had a two month break injured. Admittedly the Spurs quintet were running on empty, but surely their club colleagues wouldn't be been whilst playing for other countries? I didn't see much evidence of that.
The bottom line for me is that we've forgotten how to be English. First we wanted to follow the Dutch 'total football' experience. Then the French were the example - and more recently Spain. What's wrong with being English? What's wrong with letting youngsters 'play' the game, free from the production line coaching that drums individuality out of them? What's wrong with competition? With publishing results and tables for under 11's? What's wrong with making apprentices clean boots? What's wrong with players engaging with supporters, free from club PR machines and agents? What's wrong with learning to lose and well as win?
And what next? Well a gentleman called Dan Ashworth and his mate Martin Gregian will pick the next England manager from a place in the country called St George's Park, where we manufacture coaches to 'keep' producing the talent we saw in France. God help us.
One other thing. We love our P Lge. It's a wonderful product. It entertains people all over the world. It's a money making success like no other. But, as foreign coaches continue to turn up in their dozens to take coaching jobs that Brits could do just as well - working for foreign owners, does anyone really give a damn about the England team. It would appear not. Except England supporters it seems. Treat the public like fools and eventually you'll end up looking very foolish yourself. Ask David Cameron and the metropolitan political elite about that.