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We've Got 99 Problems But Passion Aint One

Death, taxes and England getting knocked out of major tournaments in an underwhelming fashion make up life’s three certainties.

Lars Baron/Getty Images

The loss that England suffered on Monday night was particularly humiliating because we were playing Iceland, who for all their togetherness, defensive organisation and unquestionable team spirit are a team that we should simply be beating.

Naturally this has only intensified public opinion - before Roy Hodgson even gave his resignation speech social media was flooded with tweets criticising England’s lack of passion and bemoaning the extortionate salaries enjoyed by our national team’s players.

Lifelong fan Danny Baker even went as far as to tweet "Absolutely disgraceful, #England. You useless over paid, over indulged mollycoddled shits. You are beyond shame. Disgrace to working people." As extreme as this reaction is, it does encapsulate the frustration of many England fans.

However, this accusation is an easy one to make and does not solve the much deeper problems with the national team. The Independent even went with the "too wealthy, too famous, too much ego" angle. Before lambasting the attitude of senior England player Joe Hart. But the problems run much deeper.

When Daniel Sturridge scored England’s last gasp winner vs Wales, did the players and coaching staff lack passion as they sprinted over to the corner flag to mob the goal scorer and celebrate with the fans?

As for the mollycoddling, was that an excuse for England’s repeated failures in the 1970’s and 80’s? The same people ranting about over indulgence of modern players look back on decades past as a footballing golden age unspoiled by high wages and wag culture, when men were men and all that.

But still the national football team consistently under achieved. Since 1966 we have won just six knockout games. Have we really simply lacked passion and desire for FIFTY years?

In short, no. For years we have persisted with this almost Roy of the Rovers type obsession with over relying on a superhero to come along and save the day if we get to the latter stages of a competition. In my lifetime this has always been the case, it started with Gazza, moved on to Beckham and since bursting on the international scene in Euro 2004 it has been Wayne Rooney.

Even when we were blessed with "the golden generation" we lacked any kind of tactical plan or identity. Rather than select players based on how they fitted into a system we persistently tried (and failed) to shoehorn Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard into a midfield pairing while playing our most talented central midfielder out of position.

This lack of a plan was once again evident this summer. In the warm up matches England went with a 4-4-2 diamond with mixed degrees of success, come the start of the Euro’s Hodgson went with a 4-3-3 formation before reverting to a diamond for the final group game against Slovakia then switching again for the Iceland match.

With such tactical inconsistency is it any wonder that last night’s performance looked so one dimensional and lacklustre?

Whoever the next manager needs to establish a tactical identity and select his team based on his desired formation and style of play. All the successful teams at the Euro’s so far have clear identities.

As much as England probably aren’t good enough to win the tournament but the reason is not because of one manager, or this current crop of players it is because of years of short termism from the top of the English game.

To ensure this is implemented the FA should give the next manager a guarantee of at least two tournaments to carry out the changes he feels are necessary to move the team forward.

The answer is certainly not to persist with short term solutions to long term issues.

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