As England prepare to take on Uruguay in what has now become win-at-all-costs match-up in Group D, Roy Hodgson appears to have skillfully dodged a bullet from media and fans alike with regards to his tactical failings in the game versus Italy. Although expectations for the World Cup have quite rightly been played down, and Hodgsons selection of a young and inexperienced squad with energy and attacking threat has meant a certain level of understanding and compassion from supporters, I cant help but think that England missed a fantastic opportunity to beat Italy and go into the second game with one foot in the door for the knock-out stages. That these tactical misjudgements centre largely around Everton players past and present made me want to share my thoughts for the first time on Toffeeweb.

My first point relates to the performance of Leighton Baines on Saturday evening. Consequent television and radio shows have quite predictably questioned the decision of Roy Hodgson to leave out Ashley Cole from the 23, even pointing to the fact that Baines should have been the one left out with Shaw a better back-up for Cole. Bainess performance in Maunaus was admittedly below-par and was reminiscent of quite a few games last season in a Blue shirt, where he at times appeared indecisive and gave too much respect to the opposing winger.

Against Italy, there were times when he gave far too much space to the opposition player to get crosses in and also looked vulnerable defending the back post from attacks down the opposite flanks. On occasions, you have the feeling that Baines believes getting a block on crosses is a bonus rather than an expectation, similar to a goalkeeper in a penalty shoot-out with nothing to lose, and this tends to invite unnecessary pressure on the defence. Furthermore, Baines has always had difficulties handling players with physicality and pace, especially coming inside.

That being said, I feel the criticism of Leighton Baines, and in equal measure the condescending comments, not necessarily labelling blame as such for the defeat, but implying that Baines is simply a decent Premier League full-back not up to international level, are both unfair and over-simplistic. Baines has gained a reputation as a marauding full-back who can come from deep, get beyond opposing full-backs, and create chances from deep in the opponents half. As Evertonians, we see this every week and Leighton, along with Seamus Coleman, has become one our most potent weapons going forward.

However, in an England shirt Baines always appears to me afraid to make mistakes and get caught out of position and seems reluctant to press teammates to cover for him when going forward. Consequently England gets to witness one of the best attacking full-backs in the Premier League restricted to defensive responsibilities and judged almost entirely on these capabilities / failings. This was epitomised perfectly against Italy when Baines and Glen Johnson had minimal impact in supporting attacks and were instead occupied throughout the game by Italian pressure, unable to impose themselves on the game.

So why is Baines so successful in domestic football, yet appears exposed and vulnerable in international football? Well the answer lies, in my opinion, quite clearly with Roy Hodgson. If we take Chelsea and Everton as two contrasting examples of how to use modern full-backs then here lies the evidence. Although not always adopted as a standard formation, both teams have frequently used 4-2-3-1 over the past 12 months.

In the case of Chelsea, both full-backs are under clear instructions to defend first and give the ball to the more expansive players further forward. Neither are encouraged to cross the halfway line and both are typically solid, physical players with a clear understanding of what is expected of them. When required, they get support from the two holding midfielders and players further forward but defensive cover as such is not really a major concern.

At Everton, Roberto Martinez chooses to use his full-backs more expansively, with both full-backs often seen in the opposition penalty area at the same time (most notably in the dying minutes of the game at Old Trafford last season, where Oviedo and Coleman both caused chaos in the lead up to the winning goal). To compensate for the forward-thinking full-backs, Roberto has two excellent holding midfielders who almost automatically fill-in when the full-backs move forward and the three forwards behind the main striker are unable to provide cover. James McCarthy typically moves over to the right-side, with Gareth Barry doing likewise on the left. In addition, Baines and Coleman can also call on reliable support from Pienaar, Mirallas, Barkley, McGeady etc players who are not naturally inclined to defend but are part of a system where they know their positions and are flexible and intelligent enough to fill in when teammates are committed to attacks from deeper positions.

Unfortunately, the system so effectively deployed by Martinez (or indeed Mourinho) is sadly lacking in the England national team. First of all, the three forward players behind Sturridge were all guilty at various points of failing to understand when and where to fill-in and support the full-backs, with Baines most seriously affected by this on the left-hand side. Time and time again, the Italians were able to get a 2-v-1 situation versus Baines and at times the centre halves were getting drawn out to try and support Baines and Johnson.

This not only raises a big question over the tactical discipline of the three forward players, it also raises a big question mark about Gerrard and Henderson as holding midfielders: both players were largely ineffective on the night, failing to have any real impact on the game either offensively or defensively and typically sticking to short passes backwards and sideways. However, the most critical failing of both players was their tactical inflexibility in recognising danger and moving across to support the full-backs or stepping forward into midfield to pressure their Italian counterparts.

I believe that a back four plus two deep lying defensive midfielders is a solid platform to provide defensive stability and allow the forward-thinking players (or at least the majority of them) to think offensively. This works well at Chelsea and has been successful in Robertos first season at Everton. But England suffered extensively on Saturday from the inability of Gerrard and Henderson to demonstrate tactical flexibility and buy into the formation.

So, while questions about defensive cover provided by Rooney, Welbeck and Sterling carry some validity, I believe that the biggest question surrounds the suitability of Gerrard and Henderson as a defensive midfield pair; Hodgson needs to address this should England hope to make this system work and avoid unnecessarily exposing good players in future games.

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Si Cooper
1 Posted 18/06/2014 at 15:26:25
Whilst I wouldn't pick Gerrard and Henderson over Barry and McCarthy, I do see them as similar enough in abilities for the current England duo to do an adequate job.

Henderson failed to get close enough to Pirlo on enough occasions but there was a real need for them to stay central and try to prevent the Italians just playing through the middle.

The major fault for me was, as some pundits stressed, the failure of our wide players to react appropriately when the Italians committed numbers down our left flank.

Andrew Ellams
2 Posted 18/06/2014 at 15:49:30
Despite all the excitement about the these Young Lions, there doesnt seem to be any players coming through right now who do the dirty work, ie what Barry and McCarthy do so well for Everton. And Stones apart, upcoming defenders seem to be a little thin on the ground.

Everybody wants to be a fancy dan, too much playing FIFA games on their consoles.

Kevin Tully
3 Posted 18/06/2014 at 15:59:25
It was down to Baines to organise the midfield and where they should be on the pitch according to the likes of Carragher and the MOTD panel.

Silly me, I used to think this was down to the manager and the captain with over 100 caps to his name. Rooney is also meant to be an England great, you would think he could read the fucking game by now wouldn't you?

Too many of them are out for personal glory - with Rooney & Gerrard the main culprits. Fuck 'em all.

Patrick Murphy
4 Posted 18/06/2014 at 16:10:41
I'll drink to that Kevin - there are far too many me me me players in the England 'team' but why didn't the manager intervene in the first half as it was obvious that England had a problem on that side of the pitch and whilst Baines' didn't perform well he was badly let down by those around him. You only have to look at the decision to try Milner at right back in a recent friendly to see that the manager is in my opinion way out of his depth.
Mike Gaynes
5 Posted 18/06/2014 at 16:16:12
Interesting... the US commentators on the game held Baines pretty much blameless, pointing out repeatedly that he was left isolated to cover two attacking players because Gerrard was being drawn off and Rooney wasn't tracking back.
Dennis Ng
6 Posted 18/06/2014 at 16:54:34
When you see one person doing the work of two (having to defend 2 attackers many times) like Baines did, surely he's not the problem.
David Holroyd
7 Posted 18/06/2014 at 17:19:32
Rooney's day has gone over hyped over paid. Ninety games 39 goals but time for younger players. Saying that will score a cracker tomorrow. What would Cole have done? Anybody could see the left-hand side was our weak spot. Roy Hodgson should have spoken about Baines; instead he waxed lyrical about Rooney.
Steve Carse
8 Posted 18/06/2014 at 18:35:27
Small point Andy -- Uruguay is not a must win game. A draw, then a win over Costa Rica will be enough -- so long as Italy don't lose to either.
Mike Allison
9 Posted 18/06/2014 at 22:04:14
England play a striker on the left wing who drifts up front when we're in attack. Baines operates well with intelligent, ball playing midfielders ahead of him, Pienaar the obvious one but also Osman. If England want the Baines that plays for Everton then from the current squad Lallana should be playing on the left.

You can't dump the ball on Baines and turn your back, or switch it wide to him on his own against two opponents and expect to be successful.

I don't think anyone who really knows their football held Baines to blame on Saturday, it was clear what was going on, but as England fans we said we wanted to be attacking and have a go. We picked three strikers and a winger so can't really complain now that we weren't as solid at the back. That was the trade-off Roy made and it was what the fans and media were asking for.

Given the squad we have with us, Lallana for Welbeck solves this problem, by providing slightly more balance to the midfield, as Lallana's instincts are different to Welbeck's.

However, word on the street is that Welbeck will start on the left, Sterling on the right and Rooney behind Sturridge, but the England camp are constantly pointing out that they see these three positions, and even Sturridge, as interchangeable within a match. This is something I applaud, we can't moan that we lose out on something when we know the risk we've taken.

Nigel Gregson
10 Posted 18/06/2014 at 22:23:25
you are absolutely right. Barry should be in that team. Shame on your Roy !
Tom Bowers
11 Posted 18/06/2014 at 22:46:57
There were many flaws in the England team and tactics and Hodgson must shoulder the blame.

Baines whilst not a perfect left back has been as consistant as any. Many fullbacks these days make their names by being better offensively as are Cole and Johnston.

However I felt Johnson was expected to be the only one to attack whilst Baines was to be more defensive but the designated wing backs did not do their jobs. Sometimes it was supposed to be Rooney and when he switched with Sterling it was the RS man who was suppose to help and it didnt happen.

Italy cleverly exposed this weakness as neither Rooney nor Sterling can tackle.

Overall none of the England players shone but having said that they should have had at least a draw but Italy always seem to get a result when they dont necessarily play well and this Italian team are inferior to many of the past except for talisman Pirlo.

I would expect changes for tomorrows game but wouldnt be surprised if Hodgson stuck by his guns and went with the same starting eleven although I personally would drop Sterling , move Rooney alongside Welbeck and play Lallana or Barklay.

Sondre Haga
12 Posted 18/06/2014 at 22:55:53
Roy Hodgson: You don't become a good attacking coach overnight. You have to practise first.

After 30(?) years of defensive coaching he has lost his head and listened to the fans (to avoid critisism?) A young, talented, skillful group of players. But so unbalanced. Anyway, England can still get through the group stages with 4 points.

Sondre Haga
13 Posted 18/06/2014 at 22:55:53
Roy Hodgson: U don't become a good attacking coach overnight. U have to practise first.

After 30(?) years of defensive coaching he has lost his head and listened to the fans (to avoid critisism?) A young, talented, skillfull group of players. But so unbalanced. Anyway, England can still get through the group stages with 4 points.

Ciaran Duff
14 Posted 19/06/2014 at 02:50:48
Well written article Andy and I think we all agree that the balance on the left side is just not there. Both central defenders and both central/defensive midfielders are all right footed? Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think England had another left footed player on the pitch (Lallana came on later but although he is comfortable with both feet, is actually right footed).

Apart from the lack of cover, there was very little (Eng) link up play on the left. Watching actually made me appreciate (more) the job Pienaar does for us.

BTW, for the goal, even though the cross came in, I thought Jones had plenty of time to get across and at least put Balotelli off. In my books, that was poor defending.

Here is a crazy idea They could play Shaw at LB and Baines as DM (L)!

Actually, there was an article around a couple of months ago about Martinez looking to convert Baines to that role (a la Philipp Lahm).

Derek Thomas
15 Posted 19/06/2014 at 03:36:51
At club level, and even more at International level, there always has and there always will be a Pienaar-shaped hole in front of Baines. I hate the whole Bainaar thing but... that's what it is. The two of them together improve each other and make each other look good.

Unless Roy can find someone and some way to use him properly, he will be always hung out on his own to flap in the breeze on the left.

If he can't be used properly, don't play him at all.

Darren Hind
16 Posted 19/06/2014 at 04:36:44
Not sure I would agree that our boys poor showing was down to the managers tactics - although, I must admit, I often struggle to understand what he's trying to do.

I lost count of the number of times he offered, only to be ignored by an RS "team mate" preferring to turn inside to trust the devil he knows.

To get the best out of Baines you have to use him, it was frustrating to see him getting caught between two stools when poor decision making by other players, repeatedly gave the Italians the opportunity to counter.

I agree, with KT, too many of these pricks seek only personal glory, but I also think Leighton should know that by now.

I'd love him to show the world what he can do, but if he is ignored again tonight and Roy's Boys go out, I sincerely hope its the last time we see him in an England shirt.

Give him the ball, FFS!

Kevin Tully
17 Posted 19/06/2014 at 08:06:48
Our pal 'Stevie G' (vomit) has just said England will do fine against Uruguay if the defence play well. What a prick... what about a non-existent midfield who let Pirlo make a record number of passes? I don't really hate any footballer, but he is a gobshite of the highest order, who already has his excuses ready.
Charles Brewer
18 Posted 19/06/2014 at 08:30:03
Excellent analysis, Andy. Mine was just the same, albeit with less detail and more shouting!

All the nonsense about Cole (never very good, OK at tackling attackers who happened to come near wherever he was standing for the half) does not explain how he would have coped unsupported when two or even three Italian players ran at him.

Furthermore, Rooney, for all his faults, is meant to be an attacking player operating mainly in the opponents half, even when his team is under pressure. And in the kind of climate that they were playing in, belting up and down the pitch would have resulted in him being completely spent after half an hour.

No the fault lies entirely in the midfield. There wasn't one, especially on the left side. Gerrard was his usual useless self, but being slower than ever didn't manage to get close enough to give one of his signature two feet off the ground, studs-up tackles on an opponent who was lying on the ground. Henderson looked about as effective as I would have been.

Much though I think him poor and overrated, I doubt that even Lampard would have been so signally useless as not to have seen the Italians overloading the England left and getting involved.

Incidentally, I see that Australia had a really good striker who has scored in every game so far, including possibly the best goal of the tournament to date. Certainly he looked a lot better than Lukaku. I wonder if we could sign him...

Eugene Ruane
19 Posted 19/06/2014 at 08:31:38
Derek Thomas and the OP (15) - Absolutely spot on.

Players (presumably) are selected for internationals because they perform really well for their club sides.

Baines performs really well (best) for Everton when there is a decent link-man ahead of him.

Someone who he can form an understanding with.

As you suggest, at Everton, Pienaar is that man (and Oviedo made a decent fist of it when asked).

To play Baines in the way that Hodgson has, is fucking pointless.

What has got Baines to international level is his ability to attack and to help the attack.

Yes he's a more than competent full back from a defensive point of view, but even Everton supporters don't see him has an impassible stonewall.

The whole England set-up makes me laugh, hundreds of millions of pounds are thrown at it, there's academies all over the show, there's never-ending discussion and genius players who are going to do this and that and 'terrify the opposition by running at them' and the reality is they're fucking clueless.

For all the planning and talk of systems and positions and 'dropping into the hole' etc blah, against Italy, the 'plan' looked like little more than 'Chaaaaaarge!!'

And because of that, a 36 year old Italian made them look like puddins.

Phil Sammon
20 Posted 19/06/2014 at 09:21:17
Time after time we are shown that Baines needs someone to work with down the left hand side. He is not Cafu or Dani Alves who will glide past players with the ball. He gives it and goes, and more often than not he finds space where previously there was none. He is a top player but if you isolate him then you might as well play Liam Ridgewell instead. A cart horse who can defend the back post and not a lot else.

It baffles me how only we can see this. I don't know if there is an ineptitude amongst the English media (of course there is) or whether they are just blinded by their long standing loyalties to certain clubs/players.

John Haldane
21 Posted 20/06/2014 at 09:39:53
Derek Thomas. Absolutely right.
Trevor Lynes
22 Posted 20/06/2014 at 15:12:00
The only real midfielder who has the legs and desire to cover properly in the England squad is Milner. If he had played in front of Baines, I am certain that Baines would have had a far better game. I hope that we are in for Milner as he is a true workhorse.

Gerrard does not have the legs and is becoming more and more prone to errors. He is covered at Liverpool by Lucas. Johnson too is suspect defensively but again he has Lucas in front of him.

Every really good team defends all over the pitch and our forwards did not do this part of their game. If you watch players when they do not have the ball, it becomes clear that certain players stop running when they are not in possession. Pienaar runs throughout the game and is a great foil for Baines, as is McCarthy for Coleman. Barcelona were brilliant at it a few years ago but now their midfielders are getting too old to sustain that side of the game. We had Wellbeck, Rooney, Sterling and Sturridge who all stayed upfield and did not close down the Uruguay defence.

Hart for some reason was jittery and this transferred to the defenders. Jags had a poor game but so did the rest of the defence and the so-called defensive midfield. Rooney missed five really good chances over the two matches and Sturridge missed at least two or three. Italy and Uruguay missed far less and Suarez missed none!!!

Matthew Williams
23 Posted 20/06/2014 at 19:34:21
I think it's sad that the sweeper system seems to have died from football. This sort of system where you basically keep one defender further back would have nullified Suarez last night... well, if we have the right player able to play that role which, thinking about it, I am not sure if we do?

But I said before the game that Suarez would score as Jags can't seem to handle him. I hope Martinez has taken note and makes changes when we play the RS next season. A 4-4-2 with Jags & Distin is always going to struggle against players of this quality.

Dick Fearon
24 Posted 21/06/2014 at 08:34:33
Hodgson's strategy contained elements of several outmoded tactics. In attack, with two wide men and a centre forward supported by two attacking midfielders, it was one half of the ancient W-M style... the weakness of which was clinically exposed and destroyed in the 1950s by Puskas, Hideguti of the Magical Magyars.

Unfortunately Hodgson went overboard by using his two defensive midfielders also as de facto attackers. Combine that with two of the games most attacking fullbacks and there you have a recipe for disaster.

I have just read that the old chap will keep his job. Lord help us!

Colin Glassar
25 Posted 21/06/2014 at 10:22:31
Dick, I believe Roy will be the face of English football but Gary Neville will be the 'power behind the throne'.
Mark Tanton
26 Posted 21/06/2014 at 11:15:56
Am I the only one here who dares to suggest that, actually, Baines had a poor World Cup and has illustrated the step up that this level is? Ashley Cole should have played. Sorry fellow Blues still friends, yeah?
Derek Thomas
27 Posted 21/06/2014 at 11:35:07
Peter Gorman
28 Posted 21/06/2014 at 11:42:06
Still friends Mark? Not for that comment!

Why in seven hells would anyone think "Ashley Cole should have played"? would we reach the semis then, Mark? I actually agree Baines has had a poor World Cup but for the various reasons stated above. Also, he is in good company alongside every other player who took part in those two games.

This is something I find particularly disrespectful in the media, the Ashley Cole question. He wasn't selected. Luke Shaw was. if Baines is found wanting then play Shaw, don't undermine two players by harping on about one over-hyped absentee who has achieved nothing for England, is on the decline, and won't do England any good in the future.

Colin Glassar
29 Posted 21/06/2014 at 11:49:31
Cole, JT, Ferdinand, Lampard etc.... Hell, why don't we get Beckham and the Neville bros back? And while we are at it is Geoff Hurst still available? Maybe Roy could convince Stanley Matthews to return to life and play again.

My point is, those great, experienced, quality players failed time and time again at every major tournament they played in, so what's the point in bringing them back?

Colin Glassar
30 Posted 21/06/2014 at 12:02:11
Let's be realistic: Baines and Jags careers at international level are over. The media witch-hunt has started and these two are the main targets. Gerrard, Johnson and Lampard will be allowed to retire with some grace but our two lads will be hounded out mercilessly.

Barkley's the new white hope but one or two poor games and the media will turn on him like they've done with Rooney. I feel sorry for the kid tbh.

Phil Sammon
31 Posted 21/06/2014 at 12:12:31
Baines is having a poor World Cup, but can any England player come away from this tournament with their head held high?

Baines was left exposed at the back and had nobody willing to give-and-go when going forward. If we're not going to play to his strengths then you are right Mark, Cole should have played. Hell, stick Liam Ridgewell in there if you just want some lump who can defend.

Keith Glazzard
32 Posted 21/06/2014 at 12:35:30
England effectively played 4-2-4, with predictable results.
Andrew Ellams
33 Posted 21/06/2014 at 13:10:39
Curbishley picked his team for England’s game with Switzerland in September. He went for Smalling and Shaw ahead of the Everton boys in defence and Barkley in the holding roll. English football is dying fast the further our players are from the national team, the better.
Paul Tran
34 Posted 21/06/2014 at 13:56:15
There's no 'witch-hunt' on EFC players. Jagielka and Baines have performed poorly. I would have taken and played Cole with Shaw as the 'young' cover. Jags is a good old-fashioned English defender, but not my idea as the way forward for a centre-back. Baines performed less well for us last season possibly because he was one of many threats rather then one of the few threats.

Hodgson's big mistake was building a team around under-achieving 'star' players (Gerrard, Rooney), rather than building a balanced team.

Steve Pugh
35 Posted 21/06/2014 at 14:20:45
I don't get some of you at times. Jags was better than Cahill, the number of blocks, tackles and accurate passes he made was much higher, it was just ignored by the commentators. As for Baines, even the commentators admitted that he was one of England's best attacking threats, which is why he ended up with three Uruguayan defenders on him, pity the English players couldn't be bothered to go and help out.

Everyone was poor but our boys were by no means the worst and Ashley Cole wouldn't even have lasted til half-time in that Italy game before throwing the towel in and moaning about the lack of support.

Dean Adams
36 Posted 21/06/2014 at 14:14:53
Tactically England were inept. It really does not matter who you have playing in a system if the system is utter garbage. Roy has little or no idea how to set a team up to win on the world stage. Just look at the Chilean team. On paper not better than England, but on grass light years ahead. Why? Purely down to the coach having belief in his system and the players he has chosen for that system.

The best DM in the Premier League last season, who was English, was deemed too old to play, yet older players were selected. The defence was exposed by playing two players who really let their club down all season. Some say Jags is not good enough, but to be fair to him and Cahill, they were left with no cover much of the time and then when the cover was available (see the goals against) they showed repeatedly that they got to their man but failed to make or win the challenges. How can any defender rely on that kind of second-rate cover?

Up front was just shambolic. Most posters on this site could have picked a more cohesive front four. There was no balance and the huge downside was only Rooney made the effort to track back, leaving a poor midfield to be over-run hence causing the defence to be caught out.

England need a new and progressive man at the helm. If Bobby were England manager, I would expect them to reach the semi-finals, simply because with a game plan, the right players, and most of all belief anything is possible.

Jackie Barry
37 Posted 21/06/2014 at 16:17:04
Rooney never lived up to his billing in all honesty, the player I saw at Everton got ruined, became predictable and boring. Yes, he won things but, for me, he was ruined by Man Utd.
Steavey Buckley
38 Posted 21/06/2014 at 22:11:50
Before the World Cup started months ago, I had already questioned Roy Hodgson's tactics of playing strikers as wingers; because strikers as wingers would allow the English full backs to be exposed to counter attacks with 2 opponents against one.

And in matches against Italy and Uruguay, why weren't Pirlo (Italy) and Suarez (Uruguay) man-marked? Instead of being given license to roam as their best players? Both contributed normally to England being defeated in both matches.

Dick Fearon
39 Posted 22/06/2014 at 01:59:12
I dispute any suggestion that England played 4-2-4 or even 3-5-3. If at any time it had any semblance of genuine defending or even covering by either of our laughingly named fullbacks, it was more by accident than design.

At every opportunity, both of them would add their presence to our crowded attack. Any chance of creating space for crossing opportunities was blocked their own team mates. That stupidity was compounded with both fullbacks almost continually over the half way line at the same time. Thus leaving vast areas of space in our own half patrolled by just two centre backs.

If anything I would describe England's defensive set up as 2 with an 8-man attack.

Kevin Tully
40 Posted 22/06/2014 at 11:30:41
One aspect of the England set-up has been largely ignored by the press that is the use of the sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters. He was used by Liverpool who consequently threw away the title; Ronnie O'Sullivan lost in the world snooker final, and now it seems his involvement in the England set up had little or even a detrimental effect on the team.

Footballers are simple souls. I am a firm believer in old school 'walk through a brick wall' for a Cloughie/Shankly type of manager is what's required for success at any level.

Psychologists, faith healers, or voodoo priests are not the answer unfortunately. As soon as you start using these type of mental crutches, some sportsmen can no doubt suffer by over-analysing their game or changing what comes naturally on the pitch.

It seems Hodgson is bullet-proof after all.

Colin Glassar
41 Posted 22/06/2014 at 11:46:10
I was going to write something similar about this fraud Peters, Kevin. Hoddle got ripped to pieces for his use of an (alleged) witch but Woy gets away with using some jumped-up shrink.

Players shouldn't need to be motivated to play a World Cup in Brazil ffs. Any who do should've been sent back on the first plane in a straight jacket.

Kevin Tully
42 Posted 22/06/2014 at 11:55:59
It was all Jagielka's fault, Col!
Derek Thomas
43 Posted 22/06/2014 at 12:14:36

How sports psychology has changed for England. In 1966 it consisted of:

a) at the end of 90 mins prior to extra time, Sir Alf not letting any of the players sit down so as not to show the Germans they were tired;

b) Harold Shepperton (big lad) getting a grip of Nobby Stiles by the throat in the bog pre game and asking him... "Youre not going to let Alf down, are you???" ... Nobby shakes head

Colin Glassar
44 Posted 22/06/2014 at 12:55:54
Jags probably forgot to read his book, Kevin. But then so did Gerrard and the rest by the looks of it.
Roy basically played a 4-2-4 and we got found out. Simples.
Sean Kelly
45 Posted 22/06/2014 at 12:44:00
The blame stops at Hodgson and his over-rated captain. Hodgson set the team up and his captain is supposed to make sure his instructions are carried out. Now thats the way its supposed to be but the Redshite media insisted on Sterling, Henderson and Sturridge being in the team.

Four of the attacking players wanted to play in the middle where there is only two places available. One of those should have been Rooneys and the other Sturridge to play off him. You cant put square pegs into round holes. Instead, Roy bottles it and couldnt face the possible flak from the media for benching a Redshite player and Welbeck.

Across the rest of the park, unfortunately England just dont have good enough alternatives to Johnson, Henderson or Hart who is shaky. England need a manager whos strong and will deal with the media on his terms not theirs. England were exposed as a bunch of "me, me, me" media darlings but werent united as a team. Look at Chile, they would die for one another.

Talk on SSN that Stevie slip-up might announce his retirement big fucking deal and about fucking time the donkey was gone.

Tom Bowers
46 Posted 22/06/2014 at 13:51:25
The bottom line is the squad of players were not good enough. No matter how good the tactics are, unless the players can maintain the composure and discipline to follow the script, it will fail.

England players failed when it mattered in both games after tying things up. Hodgson was just not the man and the pre-tournament games were the indicator.

Form at club level does not always translate onto the world stage and part of his starting eleven proved that yet he inexplicably couldn't see that after the Italy game. The back four and the two in front were all over the place although, despite what others have said, I still think Rooney played well.

Regardless of the Costa Rica game, a shake-up is needed and that will start with Hodgson going.

Chris Rudd
47 Posted 22/06/2014 at 14:11:49
It's bloody obvious Hodgson should have played Cole and Terry rather than Baines and Jags, then we'd have won the World Cup just like we did in South Africa... oh hang on...
Chris Rudd
48 Posted 22/06/2014 at 14:15:06
Actually Colin, it was Osman's fault!
Bill Gall
49 Posted 22/06/2014 at 15:27:30
Funny thing about these so-called experts who are now saying Cole should have been in the team is the general consensus prior to the squad being announced was Baines was the best left back by far in the country and none of them had Cole in their squad.
Rahman Talib
50 Posted 22/06/2014 at 19:30:16
Two words: Gareth Barry.

What idiot left him out of the England squad, I do not know

Rahman Talib
51 Posted 22/06/2014 at 19:40:43
I dont understand why England did so bad this year. The 1990 squad had fewer international stars than the one this year. I mean, back then, the only recognizable international star was Gary Lineker. And Paul Gascoigne was in the papers for all the wrong reasons.

Yet, we managed to reach the semi-finals and lost only on penalties to the hosts.

That wanker Waddle doesnt know how to take a decent penalty. Heres wishing the great Bobby Robson was still alive...

Dick Fearon
52 Posted 22/06/2014 at 22:26:50
At a rough guess I reckon the England squad would be making a combined total of well over 2 mil per week.
The players and managers sycophantic toadying and self serving measly mouthed excuses cannot disguise the fact that from an international perpestive they are dog shit.
For a short period in their first game v Italy Sterling was OK but it did not take long for opponents to work him out. Apart from that brief flash in the pan not one of them could claim to have been worth the money.
Patrick Murphy
53 Posted 22/06/2014 at 22:51:42
Seriously though did England play so bad in this tournament if you compare them to Italy and Belgium for arguments sake. Belgium have been less than impressive but got 6 points and are through to the next phase.

A bit of game management and a good bounce of the ball and England could so easily have been into the next round. All the media has gone on about is how poor Baines and Jags have performed but as Jason Roberts said if you wanted a left back who doesn't go forward you would have picked Cole, Terry didn't want to play for England and therefore was left at home.

It was very disappointing and I also think that Roy Hodgson wasn't strong enough by playing players out of position he was asking for trouble and he got it. Too many of England's elite players think they run the gaff and they should be told in no uncertain terms to put up and shut up.

The thing that has really got my back up is the new fad that if players aren't performing in the CL then they shouldn't be considered for national duty. That would have meant that almost every player in the England squad shouldn't have been picked as the Liverpool and Everton contingent haven't had CL football in the last 3 or 4 years. CL football hasn't done much for the Spanish team this time around has it?

James Stewart
54 Posted 23/06/2014 at 01:36:11
Patrick I'm afraid I don't buy that. It is mainly media spin that England played well but were unlucky. Truth be told they were pretty dreadful in both matches if you take off the rose tinted specs. Poor tactics and team selection were the reason they crashed out. Strikers on the wing not a defensive midfielder in the squad let alone first 11. Now we have a dead rubber and what is Red Roy going to do? Play Lampard. Idiotic.

I do agree with your CL point though.

Ant Dwyer
55 Posted 25/06/2014 at 01:37:15
I must say I agree with James (54). England were piss poor in both games; poor tactics and a shithouse of a manager. Take Gerrard for instance: struggled majorly in the first game, refused to get over to help out Baines when needed (as a DM should), took shit set piece after set piece, and then played the full 90 vs Uruguay and did exactly the same! He shit out of a 50/50 in the build up to the first goal, then went on to set up Suarezs second!

To top it off, Woy put Henderson in for Gerrard as a minder! A minder for what exactly? We all knew Gerrard did not have the legs for Brazilian heat and South American opposition. He was taught a lesson (along with Hendo) on how to cruise through a game against a piss poor side in second gear by Pirlo in my opinion.

I also agree with what Andrew (2) has said that we have no holding midfielder coming through. We need to have a solid disciplined ball winner and ball recycler , most good teams have one , England do not. Not even sure what the answer is there but again Woy did nothing to even search for the answer.

Although we have no obvious candidate for a New England manager Id say bye bye to Woy if I had it my way as hes clueless.

Lastly, why oh why did he play Lallana all year in a build up to World Cup if he was going change his mind last minute and play Sterling? Sterling spent half the season as back up to Courtinho before finding a bit of form in the final few months, surely it would have made perfect sense to have his pace as an asset when teams are tiring and stick with Lallana whom the team was used to !

Ant Dwyer
56 Posted 25/06/2014 at 01:50:20
Oh and lastly, on the Baines situation: Its similar to one I read early on this year when a Man Utd fan wrote that giving Mata to Moyes was like giving his nan an iPhone!

Same here. Woy had no idea how to best use Baines.

He has been creating more chances in the top league in the world over the past few years than any other defender in world football and Woy clearly give him no licence to roam until the last 30 mins or so against Uruguay.

Same situation v Costa Rica where Shaw, who is also a creative full back barely left his half too! Cant be coincidence can it?

Christopher Timmins
57 Posted 25/06/2014 at 06:40:40
Can't believe how the England manager is getting such an easy go after the last three games. Harry should have got the job and for all his faults he has some concept of putting a proper shape on a team.

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