WORLD OF SPORT: The Mr Magoo of management, rubbish Rooney, woeful Wilshere
Root canal work possibly. Watching Big Brother on an endless loop probably. Graham Westley's post-match press conferences most definitely.
But nothing else matches the agony of watching England play in major football tournaments, especially when they are led by the Mr Magoo of managers, Roy Hodgson.
A man so short-sighted he can’t see that his side’s passing tempo is painfully slow, that Wayne Rooney is a busted flush at international level, that a plan B is required when opponents adopt such blatantly predictable negative tactics.
A man so stubborn he doesn’t realise the best sides pass the ball at pace with vision and imagination, that Jamie Vardy lacks the technique to play with his back to goal, that he made a gross mistake in taking Jack Wilshere to France in the first place.
Wilshere is grossly over-rated even when he’s fully match fit, which he can’t possibly be right now.
There is talent in this England squad, but Hodgson is doing his best to stifle it with tactics that appear to involve a right-back doing most of the attacking. while natural strikers either sit on the bench, play out wide or too deep to make an impression. By common consent Daniel Sturridge is the best finisher in the squad so naturally undcer Hodgson he’s seen more on the ball out of the penalty area than in it.
Pass and move is a favoured football tactic. Hodgson’s team try and pass without moving and it’s pitiful and frustrating in equal measure.
How many times against Slovakia did England pass the ball square or backwards before shooting aimlessly from 30 yards? Too many.
That approach does wonders for the post-match possession and shots-on-goal statistics, but those numbers are as reliable as political polls. Leicester smashed the ‘possession is king’ myth by winning the Premier League without any.
England have dominated the ball in all three games, mainly because the opposition let us in the knowledge we are unlikely to hurt them with quick, incisive movement.
They sit deep because they know they will get an opportunity to score against a hopeless back four no matter how little they attack. Chris Smalling did his best to give Slovakia a goal with his pathetic back-pass early in the second-half. The best chance of the second 45 minutes fell to a team who only ventured into England’s half on a couple of occasions.
And yet Hodgson praised the efforts of his players after the game. He’s more like their dad than their manager, issuing kind words of encouragement rather than the harsh home truths they require.
England’s main attacking idea appears to be drilling the ball into the feet of a striker who flicks into the path of an onrushing midfielder, a tactic which has little chance of working against crowded penalty areas.
I didn’t actually disagree with Hodgson’s team changes, although the Wilshere and Ryan Bertrand selections proved to be huge errors. Harry Kane and Dele Alli needed a rest, while it’s a shame that Wilshere and Jordan Henderson didn’t take the opportunity to prove that Rooney is not the team’s midfield master.
Hodgson, and the pundits, need to open their eyes regarding Rooney. Rooney was appalling against Slovakia. Over-hitting passes by 30 yards and dribbling into trouble, usually because he lacks pace as well as a left foot.
He’s not used to being a substitute was the excuse trotted out on his behalf.
Staggering beyond belief.
Hodgson of course wasn’t helped by players who earn hundreds of thousands of pounds every week showing an alarming lack of technique and mobility. It’s quite scary how much money ordinary footballers like Henderson, a midfielder with no vision or touch, earn from their club sides.
I reckon removing Hodgson from his post would have the same uplifting effect seen when Westley was removed kicking and screaming from the ABAX Stadium. The shackles would be taken off and football would be fun again.
The players certainly don’t seem to be enjoying playing for Hodgson and believe me it isn’t much fun to watch either.