Connect in the back of the net

The first installment of a new Euro 2016 column titled “The Europhile” by O-Posts football writer, James Clark.

England are a massive footballing nation in their own right. The likes of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney have all donned the shirt in the last 20 years.

All players of incredible quality, yet on the big stage we cannot seem to turn that quality into solid performances – so here I am to ask and hopefully shed some light to that question, why can’t we seem to muster anything half decent together on the European or world stage?

It is starting off positive for England in Euro 2016. Players are speaking of the most relaxed and inviting atmosphere since they’re been in the set up and it is transferring on to the pitch so far.

In England’s opening game against Russia, we looked miles above the opposition, controlling possession and looking creative and sharp in front of goal; the issue? We couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net, it was almost as if the attacking force of England just expected the ball to go in the back of the net against Russia, as if the might of Russia would collapse at the weight of England’s quality.

Now yes, that is somewhat true but our arrogance came to the forefront again in stoppage time when Russia managed to loop a header perfectly over Joe Hart’s head. We find ourselves scratching our heads again thinking how can we just stop being so “England”?

One player that is at the centre of everything for England at the moment is Rooney. The striker-come-midfielder is coming into his own operating deeper in midfield and really stitching everything together for England and that really has shown in the hugely entertaining win against Wales in Group B.

England are built on an awkward central defence. Gary Cahill hasn’t been in superb form after a nightmare season at Chelsea and Chris Smalling, despite a decent record at the back under Louis Van Gaal at Man Utd, has been apart of a toxic environment at Old Trafford which doesn’t put his confidence at an all time high, going into a major tournament.

England and I’m sure a lot of the other teams in the tournament know this is our weakness.

One shining light for England is the dynamic nature of our full-backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker who offer such a different outlet to what past England teams have been used to.

Throw an inform Daniel Sturridge into the mix and England could be riding a wave through the group stages into the knockout rounds of the Euro 2016.

How do you solve a problem like England? Get your most technically gifted players firing on all cylinders and move forward in dynamic and creative ways.

Over to you, England.


Written by James Clark

Follow James on Twitter @JamesMRClark

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