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England 1 Iceland 2.

It is a result which has caused headlines around the world.

Euro 2016: Roy Hodgson a baffling England coach from start to finishBut to football fans, is it any surprise? It started with a Wayne Rooney penalty after three minutes, and ended in typically English fashion – a dour performance, an all-too familiar loss, an early exit from a major tournament and another coach ending his tenure.

One has to go back a decade to find an England team that looked confident on the international stage. Say what you like about Sven-Goran Eriksson, but his sides at the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004 played with vigour.

Roy Hodgson is not the sole reason for England’s second Brexit in less than a week, but he is a large part of it. He has now overseen three major tournaments, and three disappointing departures.

Since his appointment prior to Euro 2012, Hodgson has overseen 11 games in major tournaments. He has won just three of them. A tough draw at the last World Cup saved his bacon, but did not disguise the fact England were second-best against Italy and Uruguay.

The 68-year-old’s coming into the role in 2012 was surprising. He was helped by a lack of competition (Harry Redknapp was seen as the only other candidate) and the FA was urgently seeking a replacement for Fabio Capello on the eve of the European championships.

His strong record at smaller clubs like Fulham and West Bromwich Albion swayed the FA and his mid-1990’s spells with Switzerland and Inter Milan were commendable. However, his six month tenure at Liverpool in 2010 still stands out as stain on his CV. While his English passport enticed the governing body to offer him the role, many still remembered a tactical ineptitude with the Reds.

That same inadequacy reared its head in France. Alan Shearer noted after the 0-0 draw with Slovakia that he did not think Hodgson knew his best team. The personnel selections, before and during the tournament, raised more eyebrows than Jamie Vardy’s nicotine patches.

Hodgson insisted on playing Harry Kane as a lone striker, even though the youngster’s best games for England have come when they played two up front. It was obvious Kane was too isolated in the opening two group games, yet mystifyingly, the coach reverted to it against Iceland.

The erratic Raheem Sterling got the nod and promptly turned in another poor showing. Daniel Sturridge, shifted to the wing, was almost anonymous, while Vardy was restricted to an appearance off the bench.

Goalkeeper Fraser Forster arguably outperformed Joe Hart this season, but the latter was preferred by Hodgson. He was at fault for three of the four goals England conceded in the tournament. In midfield, Eric Dier was among England’s best in the group stage, yet was hauled off at halftime against Iceland for an unfit and ineffective Jack Wilshere.

Chasing the game, the Three Lions reverted to the classic long ball method, which the Icelandic defenders handled with ease. Was this Woy’s plan? Who knows. Does he even know what his plan was? Probably not. But the most concerning aspect was England’s lack of drive. At no point did they ever look like sending the game to extra time. Rooney, the man Hodgson made room for in the starting lineup, was more of a passenger than a captain. England never played with the same heart Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland or Iceland did.

Now comes the tricky part – replacing Hodgson. And it is clear they need a coach who drives them to be better. A figurehead who harnesses their talent and fuels them with the self-confidence to enter any game knowing they can win it.

Who is that coach? The answer most likely lies abroad. While Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche are the best of England’s young breed, it is not their time yet. Alan Pardew may be the bookies favourite, but on the surface is another Hodgson in waiting.

There is no simple solution in their own backyard – the FA must look elsewhere for the answer. There will be clamor to act quickly and bring in a big name, but they must find the best fit. The engine is there, now they must find a skilled enough driver.

Originally published at outside90.com

Post written by Ben Smith, Twitter: @BenSmith94
for Outside 90, Blog: outside90.com, Twitter: @Outside90

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