Euro 2016: FA & England will sift through wreckage of embarrassment
|Venue: France Date: 10 June - 10 July|
|Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC 5 live sports extra and BBC Radio Wales. Plus the BBC Sport website and app|
England will leave France to sift through the wreckage of one of the most humiliating defeats in the country's sporting history.
The 2-1 loss to Iceland, ranked 34th in the world and with a population of just 330,000, in the last 16 of Euro 2016 stands alongside the 1-0 defeat by the United States in the 1950 World Cup in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as the darkest moment in England's football history.
England manager Roy Hodgson resigned within 20 minutes of the final whistle. England's credibility was destroyed and the reputation of every player whose hand and boot was imprinted on this national embarrassment will be tainted forever.
Hodgson was the biggest and swiftest casualty as England, and its rulers the Football Association, start to pick apart its worst night in recent memory.
- Out-fought, out-thought, out-battled and totally hopeless - Shearer
- Report - England 1-2 Iceland
- 'Nervous, unsettled, poor' - how England's players rated
- 'We haven't got leaders - they are all pampered' - Waddle's rant
Why Hodgson had to go
Roy Hodgson was finished as England manager once this defeat by Iceland was confirmed. He could not survive, especially after FA chairman Greg Dyke suggested a quarter-final was a minimum requirement - and even then it needed to be a decent performance in defeat.
Hodgson saved the FA the bother of sacking him by reading from a prepared letter to confirm he was resigning. He had finished his contract and it was not simply the right decision, it was the only decision.
If we suggest Hodgson had a free hit at Euro 2012 because he had barely walked through Wembley's doors to succeed Fabio Capello, then there is no escaping his dismal record in the two major tournaments he has overseen since.
Hodgson was manager as England went out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil at the group stage following defeats by Italy and Uruguay.
It was a fiasco and yet expectations had been dampened to such a extent Hodgson and his players received polite applause when they acknowledged fans at the conclusion of a goalless dead rubber with Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte.
The supporters, and perhaps the FA, seemed lulled into thinking this was not so bad. Words of support were delivered and 10 wins out of 10 in a relatively comfortable Euro 2016 qualifying group covered up the cracks in Hodgson's ability to manage on the highest stage.
England won one game out of four in France, a last-minute 2-1 win over Wales, drew two and lost one.
Hodgson simply could not inspire performances out of an England squad that left for France with a measure of excitement surrounding it.
The final straw was being outflanked tactically to such an extent by Iceland's veteran coach Lars Lagerback and his partner Heimir Hallgrimsson, a dentist by trade, that he was left looking a man out of his time and out his depth in the second half in Nice.
It was the final act of a tenure that will be remembered for the dramatic failures in Brazil and France.
|England's worst defeats|
|USA 1-0 England - 1950 World Cup at Estadio Independencia, Brazil|
|England 3-6 Hungary - 1953, friendly at Wembley|
|Norway 2-1 England - 1981 World Cup qualifier at Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo|
|England 1-3 Australia - 2003 friendly at Upton Park|
|England 2-3 Croatia - Euro 2008 qualifier at Wembley|
What went wrong in France?
For all the talk of the FA's meticulous planning, England's football team actually looked ill-prepared for a tournament they had been strolling towards from a very early stage of their qualifying group.
As usual, the infrastructure surrounding England gave them the perfect environment in which to flourish, no excuses to cling to - and yet once again they go home embarrassed and no-one involved on the football side can make the journey with credit.
Hodgson was a muddled manager before England arrived in France and continued in the same vein here.
It started with his ill-fated notion of playing Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy (49 Premier League goals between them last season) as wingers in the final friendly against Portugal at Wembley and was maintained through his various selections here.
Wayne Rooney was suddenly re-invented as a central midfield player for the opening game against Russia. He was England's best player but Hodgson blundered by inexplicably taking him off with a 1-0 lead to protect, with the almost inevitable consequence of a 93rd-minute Russian equaliser.
Hodgson deserves credit for making two key substitutions when England trailed 1-0 to Wales in their second game, introducing Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge for Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling. Vardy and Sturridge scored to secure victory.
It led to the moment that, perhaps more than any other, summed up the confused and chaotic thinking that characterised Hodgson and England during this campaign.
England's confidence was high and momentum was being gathered after the Wales win when Hodgson decided to stop it dead in its tracks by making six changes, including dropping Rooney, for the final Group B game against Slovakia when a win was needed to top the group.
Whether it was an idea from Hodgson or his assistants Ray Lewington and Gary Neville, it was a very bad one.
England drew 0-0, finished second behind Wales and Euro 2016 life suddenly became more complicated.
Raheem Sterling returned from the sidelines to replace Adam Lallana against Iceland, a decision that went against all form and logic and was certainly a high-risk strategy.
Once Hodgson made his changes against Slovakia, England needed to win and top the group. They did not. Once Hodgson decided to recall Sterling against Iceland he needed to deliver. He did not.
And then came the perfect storm against Iceland that sealed Hodgson's fate.
He talked explicitly about Iceland's long-throw threat from Aron Gunnarsson - and yet the evidence of this harrowing night suggested either Hodgson's words had fallen on deaf ears or they had not planned sufficiently.
How does Rooney end up marking the statuesque Kari Arnason, who is usually the target? How does Kyle Walker switch off to allow Ragnar Sigurdsson to score? Where was the planning to cope with such an obvious danger?
Jack Wilshere's appearance for Eric Dier after 45 minutes appeared to be a punt, while the introduction of Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford was left too late, a mistake that became even more apparent when he almost qualified as England's man of the match following his 86th-minute appearance.
Why was Kane, despite clearly not playing to his strengths as proved in previous games, still taking set-pieces that got steadily worse as this grim night went on?
- Icelandic commentator goes wild - again
- Relive the drama of England's exit and Hodgson's resignation
- Football Daily podcast: 'England should be ashamed of themselves'
Iceland, by contrast, looked organised, committed and clearly had a plan, one which served them well in qualifying and once again here. They were focused while England, with Hodgson motionless and apparently out of ideas in his technical area, were reduced to a state of blind panic long before the end.
Wilshere was a flawed inclusion in England's Euro 2016 squad after playing only 141 minutes for Arsenal last season. James Milner had a "blink and you'll miss it" appearance as a substitute against Russia, while Everton outfield pair John Stones and Ross Barkley never figured at all.
This is now an important time for FA technical director Dan Ashworth, who will be instrumental in choosing Hodgson's successor.
He has remained in the shadows at St George's Park but will now come under scrutiny while head of performance services Dave Reddin does not appear to have produced many of the marginal gains his work is meant to bring.
Like Brazil, it has almost been a case of all the gear and no idea for England.
Not just Hodgson to blame
Roy Hodgson was always going to pay for the Iceland defeat with his job - he will shoulder most of the responsibility but not all.
No-one could argue with Hodgson's choice of Joe Hart as his main goalkeeper and yet the 29-year-old, a mainstay of England's last three tournaments, has had a nightmare Euro 2016.
Hart fumbled Gareth Bale's free-kick against Wales and conceded another soft goal to Kolbeinn Sigthorsson against Iceland. He must now come under pressure from Southampton's Fraser Forster and Stoke City's Jack Butland.
Hodgson may also use an old argument that the gruelling Premier League season did not help his cause.
Dele Alli and Harry Kane have had seasons full of glorious promise at Tottenham but disappointed here.
The pair, usually full of energy and verve, looked out on their feet in France. Kane's set-piece deliveries, in particular, looked like the work of a young man, only 22, who is spent mentally and physically.
Hodgson was also betrayed by the fact that barely any of his players lived up to their Premier League standards. It is his responsibility to coax this out of them and inspire them - but there is also responsibility on the players themselves and this did not happen.
Who manages England now?
|England managers' records|
|Manager||England career||Played||Won||Win %|
The cupboard is bare when it comes to stand-out candidates but former England captain and BBC Sport's Match Of The Day analyst Alan Shearer has registered his interest.
It would be a gamble by the FA but having employed the likes of Sven-Goran Erikisson, Steve McClaren, Fabio Capello and Hodgson for their experience and rewarded them handsomely, Shearer should at the very least be spoken to. He would command instant respect from players.
Gary Neville will not be a contender because he is tainted by his association with Hodgson's failure - so the early favourite with the bookmakers is England Under-21 coach Gareth Southgate.
The 45-year-old has long been a favoured figure within the FA but was damaged by England's poor performance at the European Under-21 Championship last summer. The reputation was restored somewhat after they won the prestigious Toulon tournament for the first time in 22 years in May.
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew, 54, and Bournemouth's Eddie Howe are already being touted. Pardew's fiery personality and boom-and-bust results throughout his career make him an outsider, while Howe is only 38 and is just starting out in the top flight after one Premier League season with the Cherries. Surely too soon for him.
Brendan Rodgers is another who had been mentioned in dispatches after almost winning the title at Liverpool but the 43-year-old has just taken over at Celtic so is out of contention.
Former Everton and Manchester United manager David Moyes is available - and would the FA be tempted to make an audacious inquiry for Arsenal's Arsene Wenger, who has one year left on his contract with the Gunners?
The FA will need to act quickly because England are back in competitive action away to Slovakia in 2018 World Cup qualifying Group F on 4 September.
It is only a short flight back from France - but rarely can the FA have had so much to discuss as the England team returns from Euro 2016 as a national sporting embarrassment.
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