On the back of arguably their worst ever defeat, England are beginning the post mortem of their catastrophic Euro 2016 campaign.
Their 2-1 defeat at the hands of minnows Iceland saw Roy Hodgson resign, the coaching set-up scatter and the country left in disbelief. It proved a combination of factors that triggered the loss, but defensive fragility was at the heart of it.
In fact, being weak at the back has cost England in their past two tournaments and it’s damaging impact is showing no signs of halting. Ever since John Terry’s premature international retirement, the Three Lions’ back four has simply crumbled under pressure.
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The 2014 World Cup proved the beginning of the end of Hodgson’s reign as England manager.
Despite the Three Lions showing great promise in Brazil, defensive issues saw them defeated albeit dominance. The losses to both Italy and Uruguay were both fine examples of the underlying weakness.
Even with Gary Neville among the coaching staff, little improvements were made ahead of Euro 2016. England peppered Russia in the opening game yet a late lapse in concentration saw three points escape them.
Furthermore, the Three Lions were unravelled by one of Iceland’s long throws in what was simply shambolic defending. England, yet again, dominated but even against such a weak side couldn’t dig their back four out of a hole.
When you take a step back from the situation, you realise that this has been a high-profile issue since 2012. Ever since Terry hung up his England boots, the national side haven’t got close to filling the void.
The Chelsea skipper’s decision was shocking at the time with many feeling he still had a lot left in the locker. After all, the 35-year-old is one of the best centre backs of his generation and undoubtedly amongst England’s greatest.
In fact, Terry played every single minute of a 2014-15 campaign that saw him romp to a Premier League title. Even during his stagnant season this year, the Chelsea man outperformed fellow countrymen John Stones and Gary Cahill.
The reality is, that even on a bad day, Terry is the best England has to offer in defence.
The 35-year-old could at least have stretched his international career to the 2014 World Cup. In addition, it’s hard to imagine Terry allowing England to concede such criminal goals as they did against Iceland.
Terry shouldn’t be criticised however. While, in leaving, he has stripped his national team of an inspirational leader and talent, the England set-up should be ashamed at their inability to deal with the departure.
The fact the Three Lions are still hurting from a decision that took place four years ago, no matter how unexpected, is nothing short of embarrassing.
Besides, after the national disaster that was defeat to Iceland, there can be no more denying that Terry is sorely missed. The Golden Generation seems a distant memory, but their legacy still lingers large over England’s current, laughable bunch.
Love him or hate him, the Chelsea captain was and remains one of the best.
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