Hodgson pays price for sorry England mess

Nice (France) (AFP) – In presiding over England’s humiliating Euro 2016 elimination at the hands of Iceland, Roy Hodgson seemed to abandon the principles upon which he has constructed his entire career.

Hodgson, 68, resigned as manager in the press conference room at Stade de Nice minutes after his side’s 2-1 loss to Iceland in the last 16 on Monday had brought his third major tournament to a dismal end.

Despite building his reputation upon producing well-structured, defensively organised teams, his England side proved careless in defence and shapeless in attack, prompting withering criticism from pundits.

“Roy was making it up as he was going along,” former England captain Alan Shearer said on the BBC.

“It was the worst performance I have seen from an England team. Ever. They were out-thought, out-fought, out-battled. Totally hopeless.”

With his side trailing 2-1 at half-time to Iceland — a country of 330,000 people, with just 100 professional footballers — Hodgson’s response was to summon the cavalry.

Jack Wilshere, Jamie Vardy and, in the dying stages, teenage Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford entered the fray. England had four strikers on the pitch.

It worked against Wales in the group phase — Vardy and Daniel Sturridge coming off the bench to score in a 2-1 win — but against Iceland, England looked completely bereft of ideas.

Just as at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which saw Hodgson’s men eliminated in the group phase after a 2-1 loss to Uruguay, when England needed patience and poise, they seemed to panic.

Iceland defender and goal-scorer Ragnar Sigurdsson said: “We didn’t feel that they created any chances. We were just heading away long balls.” 

Hodgson took five named strikers to France, including midfield convert Wayne Rooney, but his team managed only four goals, with main striker Harry Kane failing to score.

Defensively, things were better in the group phase, only to fall apart against Iceland.

Sigurdsson scored Iceland’s first goal, cancelling out Rooney’s penalty in the sixth minute by charging into the box and volleying home Kari Arnason’s flick-on from Aron Gunnarsson’s long throw-in.

– ‘Neville myth’ –

Gunnarsson’s mighty throws had been identified as a threat by Hodgson in the build-up, but the ease with which Sigurdsson strolled into the box to score exposed serious defensive shortcomings. 

Gary Neville, Hodgson’s assistant, has also stepped down and he, too, found himself in the firing line.

“What on earth is Gary Neville doing?” Shearer asked.

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