Why Bilic could be the man to res­cue sorry Eng­land

But maybe Bilic could be Eng­land’s saviour ?

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Adrian Back @aidy­back adrian@7days.ae

Em­bar­rass­ing and ab­ject, Eng­land’s dis­play against Ice­land was truly dis­mal as they crashed out of yet another ma­jor tournament. But this time, things seem worse than ever.

Of course there was go­ing to be a knee-jerk re­ac­tion to the de­feat, but in the cold light of day noth­ing has changed. Eng­land were truly woe­ful against a well-or­gan­ised but ul­ti­mately limited Ice­land.

It was a meek dis­play as Eng­land went down with barely a whim­per. The game plan went out the win­dow - if there was one - and play­ers who reg­u­larly ex­cel for their clubs some­how for­got how to pass a ball three yards.

The sec­ond-half be­came un­com­fort­able to watch as Eng­land play­ers ran around like head­less chickens. Aside from the late in­tro­duc­tion of Mar­cus Rash­ford - whose di­rect style and will­ing­ness to run at de­fend­ers showed up his more es­tab­lished team­mates - ev­ery Eng­land player should be ashamed of that dis­play.


As the min­utes ticked away the play­ers wore that fa­mil­iar look of con­fu­sion. They were stricken, baf­fled by what was hap­pen­ing. And all the while Roy Hodg­son looked on from the touch­line, hands in his pock­ets or scratch­ing his head in dis­be­lief.

A man­ager who failed so mis­er­ably to han­dle the ex­pec­ta­tion at Liver­pool, the English FA should have seen sense af­ter the 2014 World Cup and sent Hodg­son pack­ing.

Hodg­son got so much wrong in France. His strange Jack Wil­shere fetish was an ex­per­i­ment that back­fired as the Arse­nal mid­fielder was hor­ri­bly short of ac­tion.

The Ice­land full-backs were iden­ti­fied as weak­nesses and Ra­heem Ster­ling was brought back into the side, but the Manch­ester City young­ster’s con­fi­dence was shot to pieces.

Shoe­horn­ing Wayne Rooney into mid­field was a unadul­ter­ated disas­ter, while the de­ci­sion to al­low an in­creas­ingly frustrated Harry Kane to take ev­ery set piece was sim­ply baf­fling.

Even more wor­ry­ing was how Eng­land knew about the threat of Ice­land from longth­rows and set pieces and yet were be­fud­dled when on the pitch. Hodg­son didn’t even cor­rect the prob­lem. Madness.

But Hodg­son is now gone and it is up to the FA to find the right suc­ces­sor.

Gareth South­gate was men­tioned, but the for­mer cen­tre-half is nowhere near ready for such a big ap­point­ment. It had been as­sumed that Gary Neville would be in the run­ning when Hodg­son left the role, but his rep­u­ta­tion as a coach is in tat­ters af­ter his stint at Va­len­cia and as part of this Eng­land regime.


What is needed is a man­ager who is in­sight­ful, shrewd and - most im­por­tantly - in­spi­ra­tional. This means he is un­likely to be English but just look at what Trevor Bayliss (cricket) and Ed­die Jones (rugby union) have achieved so quickly af­ter dis­mal dis­plays in ma­jor tour­na­ments. Jur­gen Klins­mann would be in­ter­est­ing, hav­ing ex­celled with the USA, while Sla­van Bilic sim­i­larly im­pressed with Croa­tia and has worked won­ders with West Ham in the Premier League. A charis­matic man­ager who would grab the pub­lic and the me­dia, he would sim­i­larly scare the liv­ing day­lights out of any Eng­land player who dis­agreed with him. Eng­land may not have a ‘golden gen­er­a­tion’ but as An­to­nio Conte is show­ing with Italy, a tac­ti­cally as­tute and in­spi­ra­tional leader does go a long way. It is up to those in the FA to fix the prob­lems with grass­roots football, some­thing that could take decades. But for now the next ap­point­ment is vi­tal. If Eng­land hope to be any­thing more than peren­nial losers, they need some­one bold, brash, tac­ti­cally as­tute and pas­sion­ate. Every­thing Hodg­son wasn’t.

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