Why Bilic could be the man to rescue sorry England
But maybe Bilic could be England’s saviour ?
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.
DAZED AND CONFUSED
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.
NO MORE MEEK ‘YES MEN’
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.