'Jamie Carragher is hardly one to criticise the desire of England players' - Kevin Doyle
Independent News and Media columnist Kevin Doyle has his say on England following their shambolic Euro 2016 showing. This column was first published in the Sunday World. Read below:
There is something fundamentally wrong with the England national team - with massively hyped players playing in the self proclaimed best league in the world a combination that is not doing them any favours.
The post mortem following England’s disastrous 2-1 defeat against Iceland last week is still rumbling on and I would say it was one of the worst performances I have seen from a so-called top nation in a long, long time.
Everyone has an explanation for their underperformance and it’s hard to narrow it down to just one or two things.
Their players looked scared to play in the England team and as this happens time and again when they get to major tournaments, so surely something has to change after this latest humiliation.
I read an article from Jamie Carragher suggesting modern English players are being molly-coddled in Premier League academies and this explains why they lack the heart for a battle, but that’s not an excuse for me.
Carragher quit international football because he didn’t fancy travelling around to games for the national team if he wasn’t starting not so long ago, so he is hardly one to start criticising the desire of the current England squad.
And what’s his reason for English performances in big tournaments of the past, long before kids were treated so well in academies.
What was the excuse for England in 2014, when they went out of the World Cup in the first round, or in 2010 at the World Cup in South Africa.
They didn’t even qualify for the World Cup in 1994 and that was a time when the league did not have the so-called pampered academy graduates to pin the blame on.
If England went out of Euro 2016 to Portugal or France, no-one would have been too surprised, but losing to Iceland in the limp manner they did was shocking.
Roy Hodgson looked shell-shocked on the touchline against Iceland and they didn’t seem to have any real plan to break down defences in their four games at Euro 2016.
However, this is not all down to Hodgson because plenty of high profile managers have come up short in major tournaments with England, so this problem runs deeper.
When you see Harry Kane performing as he did in the four games at Euro 2016, you have to wonder why he looks like a world-beater in the Premier league and no where near for England.
Bizarrely, Kane was asked by Hodgson to take corner and free-kicks in this competition - even though he was struggling badly in that role - I just couldn’t understand how that lasted for the four games
Hodgson suggested he didn’t have a single midfielder on his squad that could be relied upon to strike a clean ball from a set-play as well as Kane, but what does that say about the ability of his midfielders?
Raheem Sterling is a player Man City paid £49m to sign last summer, but he is apparently incapable of taking a corner?
A player should not be playing international football - especially a winger/midfielder - if they can’t even whip in a corner.
Get Premier League top scorer Kane in the box for set pieces where most goals are scored and let anyone else take them. It was a bizarre decision, but this is not the primary reason they lost to Iceland.
I’m not sure I agreed with those who have been saying that England players show a lack of passion, desire and fight for the cause when they pull on the national team shirt. I just think they play in terror of what failure brings playing for England.
Every Ireland player gave their all without fear at Euro 2016, we could all see that, but some England players appeared to go hiding when things started to go wrong against Iceland.
It’s like they are reading the next days headlines in there mind when things start to look bad in a game and they end up not even being able to play a simple pass or control a simple ball.
Is the issue here the Premier League? With these England players promoted as world-beaters with massive help of top class players from abroad around them.
They don’t have to be the difference maker when they can rely on a world-class guy from somewhere else to win the game for them.
Is it a lack of a winter break? Is it too many games? I am asking these questions because I really don’t know the answers.
At the end of the day, I don’t really care what happens with the England team, but all we know that too many of their star names are consistently hyped up far more than they deserve to be.