England lacked team direction and clear instruction, psychologist believes

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England's players failed at Euro 2016 because of a lack of team direction and clear instruction, a leading psychologist believes.

Professor Cary Cooper also fears the team could be saddled with some heavy mental baggage following their humiliating loss to Iceland.

England have received heavy criticism after unexpectedly crashing out to minnows Iceland at the last-16 stage in France.

The 2-1 defeat in Nice has been described as one of the country's most embarrassing of all time and manager Roy Hodgson announced he would be stepping down immediately afterwards.

Cooper, professor of Psychology and Health at Manchester University, believes Hodgson failed to transmit clear messages to his players.

He said: "It's so sad. I've never seen such a poor performance. They weren't up for it and I don't understand why.

"They didn't gel as a team. That is the main criticism of Hodgson. For some reason he didn't know which team to put out there, he didn't know what players would fit together to make a team. That was obvious.

"It's almost like, 'I'm-not-quite-sure-what-to-do' management - not quite sure of the style of play, not sure who would go with who, what works, what fits. That was the problem. He didn't do the business.

"I hate to be negative about him because he is a lovely man, a nice guy, he's done his best - but his best isn't good enough.

"I think players need to know the manager knows what he's doing and I wonder whether they thought that or not and felt uncomfortable with all the changing."

Cooper does not feel all the blame should be pointed at Hodgson, however. He thinks the players failed to handle the pressure of expectation and that is something that surprises him, especially as England took an early lead.

He said: "Number one I think the manager got it wrong but I think the players are responsible too.

"You have everything to lose in terms of expectational pressure in this kind of scenario - you are playing a team from a country where only 40,000 males are of a footballing age; the expectations are overwhelmingly that you are going to win and you should be able to beat them.

"But you'd have thought after scoring a goal early they would settle down and think they would do it. Yet for some reason they didn't. They didn't look comfortable with the formation and strategy."

Euro 2016 will join a long list of England tournament failures and that is something the players will have to live with.

Cooper said: "They'll feel bad. This is very humiliating. It will have an impact on them and their self-confidence.

"Their clubs will have to be careful how they deal with them because they'll come back with a failure chip on their shoulders. It will stay with them."

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