Gareth Southgate and his side were booed off the famous Wembley turf after their lacklustre 0-0 draw against Scotland.
They simply weren’t good enough. Short of both ideas and energy.
In a game of this magnitude, against this opposition, that cannot happen. But it did.
Will it happen again, we’d like to think not, yet we don’t know.
This England should have gained the trust of it’s fans, however there’s a somewhat unanimous feeling that it hasn’t.
Southgate has a squad full of Champions League winners, Premier League winners and even a La Liga winner. St George’s Park, England’s training facility, is packed full of players who have been victorious at their clubs.
That’s just it though. ‘At their clubs’ that’s the problem.
Not one single England player can confidently say they perform better for their national team than they do for their club.
Obviously some perform to a similar level, but there is a stark contrast in performance levels in certain players, especially as of recently.
We’ve all seen the ‘Lion’s den’ and behind-the-scenes videos. The squad morale seems to be great, but by the way they played against Scotland you’d think the complete opposite.
Harry Kane has come off, most definitely, the best season of his career, winning both the Premier League golden boot and playmaker award but didn’t win either the Premier League player-of-the-year or PFA player-of-the-year, make of that what you will.
So why has Kane been just so uninspiring so far this tournament,
0 goals, 0 assists, subbed off against Scotland and only 6 touches inside the opposition penalty area, pretty much sums up the Spurs striker’s time this summer. Despite this, fan’s are ‘softer’ towards Kane after his 2018 Russia World-Cup antics.
Still though, that was then, this is now and Kane isn’t himself.
Marcus Rashford, although he’s had limited minutes he has disappointed. Fan’s got their wish with Phil Foden. He’s started both games, but hasn’t lived up to expectations. Mason Mount was good against Croatia but lacked imagination in the second game. Then there’s Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling.
Constantly hounded by fan’s and the media, Sterling can never seem to do anything right. He scored and played well in England’s opener and some fans were still calling for him to be dropped.
Nevertheless, alongside everyone, Sterling was poor against Scotland. Many questioned how he played all 90 minutes despite Harry Kane being subbed off,
That goal against Croatia was Sterling’s first goal in a major international tournament. This is his fourth time playing in one. For a forward, that’s just not good enough.
Excluding this season, Sterling for Man City and Sterling for England is somewhat like a Jekyll and Hyde situation. Two different players, and unfortunately for the Three Lion’s he performs better in Manchester.
It’s not unusual for players to perform differently from their national team to club, though.
Perhaps the most notorious example of this, at least nowadays, is Paul Pogba of Manchester United and France,
The Paul Pogba of Manchester United is labelled by many as a ‘let-down’, ‘rip-off’ or an ‘embarrassment.’ Pogba is one of Roy Keane’s many disliked players, and Keane is often heard slating Pogba, even after a good performance.
Yet the difference when he plays for France is night and day. The driving force for a World-Cup winning nation, Pogba turns it on most times he puts on the French top. You can tell he loves playing for France and enjoys his football more there. He’s a genuine joy to watch.
Perhaps not as much of an extreme, Olivier Giroud is a similar example. He performs to a noticeably higher calibre when playing for Les Bleus.
It’s not surprise then the French have dominated international football recently, many of their players are better for their national team than their club.
That’s England’s problem.
They don’t have a Paul Pogba or Olivier Giroud.
How to make your players like that is the question that needs to be answered.
You’d think more players would perform at a greater level when putting on their national team shirt, but they don’t. Especially at England.
England are missing a Paul Pogba.