Posts Tagged ‘England’

Analysis: England’s ‘brittle’ football psyche exposed again

Glenn has announced that his organisation will now carry out a “definitive review” of what happened at Euro 2016 and “canvas opinion across the game” before announcing a permanent successor to Hodgson. Adding to the sense of incomprehension is the fact that England’s youth-level teams do not seem as prone to collapse as the senior side, as shown by the Under-20 team’s success at this year’s Toulon Tournament. England have taken steps to address psychological shortcomings by using Steve Peters, a renowned psychiatrist who has previously worked with Liverpool, British Cycling and UK Athletics. Peters was available for England’s players to consult throughout the Euro in France, but Hodgson’s analysis of the team’s failings suggested that mental factors had played a part. “We know that at tournament level, mentality is a vital factor,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve tried hard in our preparation to deal with that, but once again the result wasn’t there, so therefore we’ll be accused of failing.”

Another major tournament calamity for England, another round of soul-searching. Here’s my piece on the psychological factors underpinning England’s Euro 2016 exit.

Related link: Hodgson pays price for sorry England mess

Feature: Vardy brings Leicester spirit to England’s Euro quest

Looking beyond Euro 2016, Vardy will undergo an operation after the tournament to repair “two big cracks” in his right wrist, but says he will only be sidelined for three weeks. He is bringing out an autobiography, My Story, in October and revealed that a film charting his rags-to-riches tale is slated for release in 2017. “It’s happening,” he said. “It’s out in 2017, from what I’ve been told. I think they’re just getting all the actors sorted.” In response to a question about who will play him, as well as a cheeky entreaty about who might take on the role of Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, he would only say: “I’m not at liberty to say.”

Jamie Vardy sat down for a chat with journalists at England’s Euro 2016 media centre in Chantilly this week. Find out what he said here.

Analysis: Rooney reborn in England midfield role at Euro 2016

In England’s final pre-tournament friendly, an unconvincing 1-0 win over Portugal on June 2, Rooney led the line as a central striker in a 4-3-3 formation. Two weeks later, he is being picked in midfield ahead of specialists such as Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson and James Milner. Rooney’s repositioning has exposed a hitherto underappreciated side of his game, with his strafing passes helping to set England’s tempo against both Russia and Wales. He completed 66 passes against Wales, more than any other player, and his tireless promptings established a foundation for the late push that culminated in Daniel Sturridge’s injury-time winner.

Wayne Rooney’s redeployment in England’s midfield appears to represent the dawn of a new phase in his career. I’ve written about it for AFP here.

Analysis: Muddled England give Hodgson food for thought

Despite Wales sitting perilously deep at times, England toiled in their attempts to pull them out of their defensive shape and it was not until added time that the decisive moment of quality arrived. Sturridge knocked the ball forward to Vardy, who laid it off to Alli, and though the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder could not profit from his own slick turn, Sturridge burst in to beat Hennessey at his near post. It prompted an explosion of joy on the England bench, Hodgson leaping to his feet and assistant coach Gary Neville haring down the touchline. But throwing all the strikers on and hoping for the best is not an approach that can be relied upon to carry England deep into the tournament.

For all the joy of England’s dramatic victory over Wales, they remain very much a work in progress. My piece for AFP can be read here.

Feature: Wales v England, a tale of fraternal friction

Historically, the relationship between the two nations has been one of English incursions and Welsh resentment, from King Edward I’s invasion of Wales in the 13th century to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s war on striking Welsh coal-miners in the 1980s. Today, Wales answers to the British government in London, although it was given a degree of political autonomy by the creation of the Welsh Assembly in 1999. “Wales is administratively part of England and so Welsh national identity is a rather contested area,” Huw Richards, a Welsh journalist and academic, told AFP. “An awful lot of Welsh national identity is tied into the relationship with England and is about not being England, being different.”

Ahead of their Euro 2016 clash in Lens on Thursday, I’ve written something on the rivalry between England and Wales. You can read it here.

Feature: Walker finds light at end of England tunnel

Kyle Walker could not bring himself to watch England’s recent tournament appearances, but he is thrilled by the prospect of starting their Euro 2016 opener against Russia on Saturday. The 26-year-old Tottenham Hotspur player is sampling major international competition for the first time, having sat out Euro 2012 with a toe injury before missing the 2014 World Cup due to an abdominal problem. Named man of the match in last week’s 1-0 win over Portugal, the right-back is expected to start against Russia in Marseille. If he does, it will be the first England game at a big tournament that he has paid attention to for a while. “When I’m injured, I can’t watch it,” Walker said. “It’s too difficult for me.”

Kyle Walker talked to journalists at England’s Stade des Bourgognes training base on Tuesday. Read my piece here.

Betway Insider podcast: England, France and Euro 2016

I made my first appearance on the Betway Insider podcast this week to talk about Roy Hodgson’s tactical conundrums with England, France’s troubled preparations for Euro 2016 and my favourite memories from reporting on major tournaments. You can listen to it here.

Report: Wembley unites to honour Paris victims

A moving rendition of the French national anthem reverberated around London’s Wembley Stadium on Tuesday as fans of England and France paid tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks. In a crowd of 71,223 that included British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William, many stood to sing ‘La Marseillaise’ four days on from the attacks, which left 129 people dead and over 350 injured. England won a subdued match 2-0 courtesy of goals from Dele Alli and captain Wayne Rooney, but the outcome of the contest was a mere anecdote on a night thick with poignancy. “Emotionally, it was a very, very strong moment,” France manager Didier Deschamps told his post-match press conference.

Having spent four years living in Paris, and two years living just around the corner from where some of last week’s attacks took place, I found it very moving to be at Wembley on Tuesday for the friendly match between England and France. You can read my report on the night here.

Related link: Fans calm, defiant ahead of England-France game

Profile: Wayne Rooney at 30 – Man United’s talisman reappraised

A recent BBC documentary about Rooney has helped to soften attitudes towards him in Britain. Renowned for his aggressive on-pitch demeanour, all angry scowls and expletive-strewn outbursts, the Rooney in the film came across as a shy and softly spoken family man. Viewers saw him chatting with former neighbours on the housing estate in the tough Croxteth district of Liverpool where he grew up and were treated to the surprising admission that the young footballer wooed his future wife Coleen with poetry. According to former England striker Gary Lineker, whose production company made the film, the public reaction on social media was “overwhelmingly positive”.

Another day, another Wayne Rooney profile… This one’s to mark his impending 30th birthday. You can find it here.

Analysis: Waning Rooney on brink of England history

Obliged to lead the line alone in manager Louis van Gaal’s single-striker system, he has looked isolated and off the pace, his touch betraying him, his famous explosiveness diminished. It has brought to mind the words uttered last year by Paul Scholes, Rooney’s former United team-mate, who said that Rooney’s premature emergence as a teenager means he may have reached his peak some years ago. Rooney himself has dismissed suggestions that he is past his best and has pointed with justification to a historical record that shows his fallow periods are frequently followed by flurries of goals. And yet there is no escaping the fact that he is no longer the game-changing force of nature, the rampaging bull, that burst onto the scene with Everton at the age of 16, earning him the nickname ‘the White Pelé’.

A piece on Wayne Rooney, and the gulf between the player he threatened to become and the player he actually is.

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