There have been a number of issues raised following England's disappointing - although not entirely unexpected - exit from the World Cup at the first stage.
One of the main scapegoats has been the poor performances of captain Steven Gerrard. People have, however, lauded the introduction of a number of younger players.
I, personally, feel that both of these opinions are inaccurate - Gerrard was not good but more blame must lie with Roy Hodgson's tactics, while too many young players actually caused more problems than it solved.
THE GERRARD ISSUE
There is no doubt that he is a fine player, although age is beginning to catch up with. I am not trying to deny that Gerrard was not extremely disappointing in both fixtures, slowing the game down on occasion and looking fragile defensively. However, Gerrard enjoyed a stellar campaign for Liverpool - I refuse to believe that he has simply turned into a poor player overnight.
Instead I believe Hodgson must accept some blame for leaving his captain and talisman so exposed by playing only Jordan Henderson alongside him, who offered scant support against a packed Italian midfield and a slick Uruguay attack. He is no longer the most mobile and at Liverpool is usually supported by two others.
In my eyes Hodgson was picking the XI best individuals rather than the best team. Unfortunately it would have made more sense to leave one of either Wayne Rooney or Daniel Sturridge - arguably our two best players - out of the starting line-up in favour of a genuine midfield player.
Rooney possesses excellent creative skills in the Number 10 role, but is not as willing and able to defend as, for example, Oscar for Brazil. It is a tough decision, but it has to be made for the good of the team - Italy left Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile on the bench so that they could keep their midfield trio.
Instead, it would have made more sense to select either Jack Wilshere, James Milner or even Frank Lampard to perform a more disciplined role in the centre, giving Gerrard greater protection and freedom to dictate the play, as well as offering a stronger defensive option. This would have been particularly useful against Italy's formidable trio of De Rossi, Pirlo and Veratti.
Furthermore, the more defensive mindset of the midfielder would, if applied effectively, have allowed greater creative freedom to the two wide men (Sterling and Welbeck), thus in theory not taking away any of the attacking threat. One of the midfield players bombing forward would still have left two to cover a counter attack.
The alternative would have been to employ a Liverpool-style diamond, with two midfielders screening Gerrard as he is more used to at Liverpool. This is a formation a number of the squad are used to, would once again give greater defensive solidity, while also enabling Hodgson to select both Sturridge and Rooney, with Sterling or Lallana in behind. Width could be provided by Johnson or Baines, both of whom are stronger going forward than defensively.
These are things Hodgson should consider before Euro 2016, and if he has learnt he should try implementing them sooner rather than later.
TOO MUCH, TOO SOON
I admire Hodgson for picking so many youngsters for the tournament, but I felt he perhaps picked too many. Many of the players had never played together before and had very little time getting used to the English style of play, which was changed very last minute from conservative to attacking.
The moral of the story - play in qualifiers how you intend to play in the tournament. Don't scrape 1-0s and 0-0s in the qualifiers and then expected to throw everyone forward and annihilate Italy. We must ensure that we continue the style of football used in Brazil into the qualifiers so that, come Euro 2016, the players will be used to it.
Additionally, use the players you intend to use at the Euros in the qualifiers. Admittedly there will always be one or two exceptions who simply cannot be ignored, but the squad during qualification should be changed as little as possible - stability is key. If you look a the squads that are looking strong so far, the vast majority have stuck largely with the squad that got them there.
Although Brazil was not a success, it was not a complete failure either. Lessons have been learnt and there were glimpses of the talent some of these players possess. Hodgson must see, however, that individual brilliance may not necessarily result in team success.
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