As an England fan, and having had a couple of days to stew on Saturday’s result now, I now think I’m finally ready to give my opinion on it, and – more importantly – make suggestions for how Roy and his men tackle their next game on Thursday.
With that in mind, here are five thoughts about England’s opening game of Euro 2016:
Something’s wrong with Harry Kane
Whether he’s tired, or whether he’s just going through a horrible lapse in form, watching Kane against the Russians wasn’t pretty. The team actually looked pretty lively, and made several chances that – had Lallana been a better finisher – they could well have finished.
But Kane wasn’t involved in any of that. He barely touched the ball, certainly not in the Russian penalty box, and when he did get the ball he was easily bullied off it.
My suspicion is that the Tottenham striker is just absolutely knackered, having played pretty much every single game for Spurs last season. That doesn’t bode well for intensive tournament football.
BBC Sport – England at Euro 2016: Wales could be Harry Kane’s last chance – Shearer https://t.co/90JLvTh1YB
— Richard Lewis (@RichardLewis33) June 13, 2016
Where was Vardy?
As we discuss Kane, we must also talk about Jamie Vardy. The Leicester man was conspicuous by his absence on Saturday night, but even more bizarrely, he was not given minutes off the bench.
When you take into account Vardy’s pace, it seems very odd of Roy Hodgson not to bring the striker on in the latter part of the game, especially when the Russians were tiring and the gaps were beginning to open up.
Whether Hodgson drops Kane and puts Vardy up front or not, one thing is certain: the Leicester striker must play some part in the Wales game, otherwise there has been literally no point in bringing him to France.
— Goal UK (@GoalUK) June 11, 2016
Sterling has lost his confidence
Raheem Sterling was – to some – a shock selection on the left wing, after a mediocre season at the Etihad. And for some of Saturday’s game, he proved his doubters wrong, with foraging runs up the flank and some nice interplay with Danny Rose. However, time and time again, the young winger let himself down, not through any lack of ability, but through absence of confidence.
If we think back just two years to the World Cup, Sterling was one of our bright sparks. He’d shoot on sight, take players on and make things happen. That all seems to have gone, but unfortunately for the Man City winger, that’s the main thing he’s good at. He needs to start making things happen or he’ll be benched.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 13, 2016
Wayne Rooney is a midfielder
For the first time in a while, Wayne Rooney played from the start for England and was an integral and important part of the side. Deployed in midfield, Rooney got on the ball and made things happen, which was a joy to see. Hodgson must ignore any clamours to stick him back up front, and play him in the central position for the rest of the tournament, encouraging his captain to run with the ball a little more.
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) June 12, 2016
What should Roy change?
Not much. But perhaps something. Whether Kane was too isolated, he just had a bad game or he’s just too tired to continue, something isn’t quite right up front, and we can’t afford to risk that happening again. I’d be tempted to replace Kane with Daniel Sturridge, keeping the rest of the team intact, but drawing a red line through any plans to bring on James Milner at any point during the game.