What now?

Published: Tuesday, 28 June 2016

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.