My more in-depth thoughts on England are to come tomorrow, but as an instant reaction I will give you this: I have never been more embarrassed to be English in my life. First, we leave the European Union and then at Euro 2016 we suffer our worst competitive defeat in history. Not by scoreline, but by pure loss of pride and credibility.
Few of the 23 players that were part of the shambles in France as well as Roy Hodgson have much of those two qualities left, and after draws to Russia and Slovakia, a solitary win over Wales and crushing defeat to Iceland I’ve rated them out of 10 for their performances. I was optimistic a few days ago, but I’m holding nothing back for these spineless, weak so called ‘footballers’.
1. Joe Hart – 2
Had a very poor tournament and could be argued to be England’s worst performer. For a goalkeeper that some have labelled ‘world class’, Joe Hart showed that he may need some time out of the England team. Faced just five shots in the entire tournament and conceded four goals. Made errors against Wales and Iceland, the latter of which effectively knocked us out of the tournament. Love his passion, but when you make statements like ‘I’ve had nothing to do’, it is always going to end badly.
2. Kyle Walker – 7
For me, Kyle Walker was England’s best player at the tournament. In a team lacking width, the Tottenham man got forward really well with his electric pace and put in decent crosses into the box. Impressed greatly against Russia and Wales, winning the Man of the Match award against the latter before being rested perhaps unfairly against Slovakia. Caught out for Iceland’s first goal on Monday, but is still one of the few players who can return home with his head held high.
3. Danny Rose – 6
Like Walker, Danny Rose was a good option on the flank for England in the absence of true wingers. Defended and attacked well, but was beaten a couple of times and didn’t do quite enough to earn as high a score as Walker. But a lot of promise can be taken from the 25 year old’s first major tournament, and should give the new manager confidence to retain Rose in the starting XI, despite left-back being a position where the Three Lions have impressive strength in depth.
4. James Milner – N/A
The only game time he got at the tournament was the final three minutes against Russia. In that time, England conceded as Milner failed to close down Georgi Schennikov, allowing the left-back to cross into the box and set up the equaliser. How much blame you can really pin on the Liverpool man is debatable, but I think Milner should definitely have played more in France, and would have been a better option that Jordan Henderson or Jack Wilshere when Roy Hodgson rested players against Slovakia.
5. Gary Cahill – 5
Coming into the tournament after an average season with Chelsea, Cahill performed at a similar uninspiring level in France. That’s not to say he made any glaring mistakes, but he looked off the pace and sluggish, especially against Iceland as Kolbeinn Sigthorsson jinxed past him far too easily to score what proved to be the winner. I expected more from one of the more experienced players in the squad, but Cahill’s position is barely under threat so he perhaps got too comfortable in the side.
6. Chris Smalling – 6
Only slightly better than Cahill. Nearly scored a disastrous own goal following a mix up with Joe Hart against Slovakia, but other than that was reasonably solid. With Harry Kane taking most of the set-pieces, Smalling was our main threat from these situations. He played the ball out of defence well too, but found it came back to him too often for both his and fans’ liking. Most definitely England’s best centre-back, but nowhere near the world’s best in his position.
7. Raheem Sterling – 3
The only natural winger in the England squad started three of the four games simply because he was just that. Needless to say that he was substituted in each of those three games against Russia, Wales and Iceland as he looked devoid of confidence, putting in unimpressive performances. Decision making was poor and lost the ball far too often. The one thing you can credit Sterling for is winning the penalty against Iceland, but that’s clutching at straws. The only way is up for Raheem, who I really hope can be an England star in future.
8. Adam Lallana – 6
Although he can play out wide, it certainly isn’t Adam Lallana’s best position. Yet Roy Hodgson played him on the flank for all the group games before dropping him against Iceland and I don’t think the Liverpool man did anything to disgrace himself. Certainly one of England’s better players at the tournament, Lallana got himself in the right areas and showed he has great vision and passing. The only thing that let him down was his finishing, which he really needs to work on.
9. Harry Kane – 2
In my tournament preview, I labelled Harry Kane as England’s star man. And justifiably so, after the 22 year old scored 25 Premier League goals last season. But he was nowhere near that quality in France, as he looked tired after a long season. Was rarely a threat, continually lost control of the ball due to a poor first touch and when he did get the chance to shoot, his efforts were way wide. It didn’t help that Kane was put on set-piece duty, but you hope he’ll learn from this experience and prove to be a key player in future.
10. Wayne Rooney – 6
Had it not been for a disastrous performance against Iceland, Wayne Rooney’s rating would have been higher. Wayward passing and poor control overshadowed what was a relatively decent tournament for the captain as he impressed in his new midfield role. Man of the match against Russia as he dictated the tempo and made runs from deep, he was inexplicably dropped against Slovakia. The 30 year old has confirmed that he won’t retire from international duty, but how much more of Rooney will we see in an England shirt?
11. Jamie Vardy – 6
Didn’t suit the system that England played and therefore Vardy was nowhere near as effective as he was for Leicester last season. Always ran tirelessly though, and made a superb impact as a half-time substitute against Wales, scoring within 10 minutes. Struggled against Slovakia and failed to make the same difference when introduced from the bench against Iceland. How much of that is Vardy’s fault is hard to tell, and would have done better if the Three Lions played two upfront.
12. Nathaniel Clyne – 7
Was one of the six changes made against Slovakia, and did a decent enough job. Had little to do defensively, and got forward well with some good crosses. Nearly scored too, but his close range effort was saved by the goalkeeper. I’d be comfortable with either him or Walker in the future, and full-back looks to be England’s strongest position at the moment.
13. Fraser Forster – N/A
Some fans called for Fraser Forster to come in following Joe Hart’s error against Wales, but the Southampton stopper stayed on the bench for the whole tournament. Could well get his chance if Hart is to indeed be dropped for the start of the World Cup qualifiers.
14. Jordan Henderson – 5
I really do not rate Jordan Henderson. Came into the tournament having just returned from injury and it showed. Looked unfit and misplaced a lot of passes. To give him credit though, the Liverpool man worked hard and tried to set up chances. Wasn’t overly bad, but didn’t do anything to suggest he should be starting when 100% fit either.
15. Daniel Sturridge – 6
Like Vardy, was used ineffectively and often out wide. In my opinion, Sturridge when fit is the best finisher this country has, but playing him out on the flank is never going to utilise this. Showed flashes of excitement, and earned his start against Iceland. The last-gasp winner against Wales was England’s tournament highlight.
16. John Stones – N/A
Got the feeling of being part of a tournament squad after only being part of the preliminary group in 2014, but was one of two outfield players along with Everton teammate Ross Barkley to not get on the field.
17. Eric Dier – 6
Brilliant against Russia, both in his role as a defensive midfielder and unlikely set-piece specialist with a cracking free kick to give England the lead. But it was downhill from there for Dier, who misplaced numerous passes against Wales, was average against Slovakia and surprisingly subbed at half-time against Iceland. I don’t think the Tottenham man was bad enough to warrant that, and should remain a key player for the Three Lions in the next ten years.
18. Jack Wilshere – 3
I cannot understand why Jack Wilshere was taken to the tournament. Roy Hodgson’s favouritism blinded him as it was clear to see that the 24 year old was unfit having played minimal football over the last few years. Perhaps did the best he could and we know how good Wilshere can be, but in France he looked massively of the pace and could barely pick a pass. His place on the plane should have been given to Danny Drinkwater.
19. Ross Barkley – N/A
The only midfielder not to be used in France. I thought he perhaps should have been given a chance against Slovakia when we could have done with a bit more attacking flair, but Barkley ended up just having to enjoy the French surroundings.
20. Dele Alli – 3
Much like Kane, a long season probably caught up with Kane in France. He was nowhere the performance level that earned him the 2015-16 PFA Young Player of the Year award, and I called for Alli to be dropped after the Wales game. He showed glimpses of the great talent we all know he possesses, but playing a deeper role than he does with Spurs hindered his game. One for the future most definitely, but an incredibly disappointing tournament for Alli.
21. Ryan Bertrand – 6
Solid yet not spectacular in his solitary appearance against Slovakia. Ryan Bertrand didn’t do anything to suggest he should displace Danny Rose, and could even have his spot in the squad pinched when Luke Shaw returns to full fitness. His lasting impact in France was an unintentional yet violent elbow in the face of Peter Pekarik that earnt the Southampton man a booking.
22. Marcus Rashford – 7
Many people thought that Marcus Rashford had been taken to the tournament for just experience, but the exciting 18 year old showed that he was in France to make an impact. Played 21 minutes against Wales and was a standout performer despite being put on the wing. Brought on far too late against Iceland when he was equally as impressive. Rashford attempted three take-ons in his seven minute cameo, more than any of the rest of the players in the entire game. One for the future, and to be honest, the present as well.
23. Tom Heaton – N/A
Never expected to get any game time as England’s third choice goalkeeper, but at least he got a free holiday out of the trip.
Roy Hodgson – 4
Perhaps a generous mark, I’m not pinning as much of the blame on England’s now ex-coach than other fans are, but there’s no question that Roy Hodgson made plenty of mistakes in France. Bar his substitutions against Wales, there’s little to praise him for. Putting Kane on set-pieces, persisting with Sterling, making six changes against Slovakia including Rooney, the list goes on. Idiotic. Somewhat arrogant in his press conference aftewards, which excluded an apology. Good riddance Roy.
Agree with my ratings? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter!