One of the most exciting parts of the buildup to any major international tournaments is always the over-hyping of the English national team. Whenever the World Cup or European Championships roll around, the hype around the English team creates sky high expectations, only for the team to woefully under-perform and either crash out of the competition in the group stage or at the earliest possible time that penalties can get involved. It truly is a tradition unlike any other.
This year was looking to be different. The hype around the English team was missing. The mood of the English fans was more pessimistic then it’s ever been, which is odd because the team is better then it’s been in a long time.
But then last Saturday happened. You know, the day England came back from 2-0 down in the second half against the world champion Germans to win 3-2, in Berlin no less. Suddenly English fans saw how good their team could be and they started to believe. The hype machine has been turned on, and at just the right time.
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) March 27, 2016
I couldn’t be more excited to watch how this unfolds because we all know how this will play out. So without further ado here are three ways that England can embarrassingly crash out of Euro 2016 this summer, presented from least likely to most likely.
Succumbing to the pressure of the hype machine:
This is the most simple. What if the pressure gets to the players and they totally implode? However for the first time in a long time this probably won’t be England’s undoing. This is new, and more importantly a very young, England team. Most of these players weren’t with the team during previous tournament failures. Their inexperience means that despite the talent and potential they have, expectations will still be a little lower. This will allow them to go out there and freely play their own game.
England’s defense lets them down:
This is far more likely to happen then a full team implosion. England’s defense can best be described as “shaky.” While they possess two of the Premier League’s best fullbacks in Kyle Walker and Danny Rose early indications are that manager Roy Hodgson prefers Nathaniel Clyne at right back. The biggest problem though is in the middle. First choice center backs Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling have both had up and down seasons. While Smalling has been great this year, he’s struggled to maintain the great form he showed in the latter half of 2015 in the first of 2016 so far. Then there’s the backups, Phil Jagielka and John Stones, the centerback pairing for an Everton defense that can’t stop anyone. That’s not reassuring.
To make matters worse Roy Hodgson has already said that if he’s fit, Joe Hart will be his number one goalkeeper. At this point Hart is probably at best the third best English keeper behind Fraser Forester and Jack Butland though Butland has been ruled out of the Euro’s after picking up an injury against Germany.
Roy Hodgson can’t get out of his own way:
This will easily be the most likely cause of England’s undoing. After seeing the full potential of what England’s plethora of young midfielders and strikers could do in the second half against Germany many people believe they know who would be in England’s best XI for this tournament.
Unfortunately while we all may see it one way, none of us are Roy Hodgson and he is the one that gets to pick the team. For reasons no one really knows, Hodgson still has loyalties with several different players that lead you to believe he’ll pick them over players that better fit the team. I already mentioned his affinity for Nathaniel Clyne over Kyle Walker at right back, despite the former having a pretty poor season and the latter having a fantastic one. Hodgson also has a love affair with forward Danny Welbeck, despite him being a poor creator and, historically at least, a poor finisher.
Then there’s the case of captain Wayne Rooney. If you watched the second half of the England Germany match you saw England playing at a very high level and it’s only natural to wonder where exactly Rooney fits into this team. Now, don’t believe everything you read. Rooney is still significantly better then the Louis van Gaal version that we’ve seen over the past two years, and he’s proven that every time he’s put on an England shirt over the past two years. He can easily slot into the team as a striker, but certainly not the lone striker. If he’s played with either Harry Kane or Jamie Vardy, England’s attack is still very potent, and having three fit strikers in a big tournament is never a bad thing.
But perhaps the most concerning thing about Roy Hodgson is that there are reports that he’s saving a spot on the team for Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere if he’s fit. I can’t even think of the proper words to describe this. Ridiculous? Asinine?
Forget about the fact that Wilshere hasn’t played a single match all season. Even if Wilshere was fit England already have Eric Dier, Dele Alli, and Danny Drinkwater (though apparently Hodgson prefers Jordan Henderson, again I give up) in the middle of the field. At no point should Wilshere be playing ahead of any of them.
Roy Hodgson has managed to stumble upon perhaps the greatest collection of talent England have had in quite some time. But for some reason he still has an affinity for his old toys and that could be exactly what ends up bringing England down.