What is going on in England?
The Euros have become an illustrious stage where Europe is able to showcase their best and brightest right before the World Cup. While already writing tantalizing Cinderella stories, the one question that continues to come to mind has been this: What is going on in England?
After a surprising loss to Iceland, many critics and soccer analysis have questioned the overall program of England’s men’s national team. While Iceland was already seen as a threat, the matchup between the two nations seemed more like a blessing than a curse. But after the unmitigated and unfolding disaster of a 2 to 1 defeat, we have to question the overall integrity of the program. England, at the end of the day, has a great squad. In fact, England, as a country, has a great history. As one of the first, if not the first, countries to establish the formulation of the game in the nineteenth century, England was able to foster and establish the rules and players of the game to create one of the richest and competitive leagues in the world. But even with the best league, even with the best history, and even with the best players, the Brits still couldn’t muster the talent necessary to move within the tournament. And to put the icing on the cake, England loss to Iceland, a national team that was already counted out before the tournament even started.
So what happened? How can England play this poorly? What could have they done differently?
As much as we can ask these overarching questions, the answer is, in itself, an enigma. The England squad is, and has been, filled with countless superstars that, together, have amassed a ridiculous amount of trophies and titles for their current and former clubs. Their payroll, talent, and even name have instilled fear against their opponents every time they play. But every time they do play, they always seem to disappoint.
Now I say this with no particular joy. While I may not be an England fan, I am a soccer fanatic that despite everything, appreciate the tremendous talent that this national team brings each and every year. But as we have seen with Argentina, talent is not everything. Having the best players in the world is not the key to success. While Germany will have some of the most magnificent players to ever play the game, their style and command is based purely on the team and the team itself. For national teams like Germany, Italy, and Belgium, they do not rely on that one simple playmaker that Portugal, Argentina, and now England look to. Instead, they look at the pride and nation as a whole and how their talents can play a single piece to the overall puzzle.
Collaborative soccer will always be a difficult thing, especially amongst verbose egotistical players. If England were to move on from this horrendous loss, they would need to reevaluate their overall style and pattern a stage that echoes the energy and solidarity that other nations play with. Yes, it is great to see Vardy having a party. But when the party stops and you are faced with another embarrassing exit, something has to change.
With Roy Hodgson’s resignation, we are beginning to see the sun shine again. But to truly improve, the egos need to be left at the door. England, remember this, this loss will forever be ingrained as one of the worst losses in football history. The question is what can you do to change it. Playing the game and shining is easy. But playing it together will be your hardest hurdle.