Euro 2016 is upon us. The nation is ready and are expecting big things from this young England side that contains emerging talents from this season; Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy to name a few. Although we have a lot of great young talent in the squad, on paper, this is probably one of the poorest England squads the country has seen in a long time. That, combined with the fact that England usually don’t turn up at major international tournaments, means that I’m not hopeful of us getting anywhere near the final in France.
With a squad that lacks experience, players that shouldn't be there and a manager who is too tactically inept to manage in major tournaments, here are 10 reasons why I think England won't win Euro 2016.
10 The Defence
The weakest component of the England team in my opinion is the defence. My preferred back four would be Rose, Cahill, Smalling and Clyne, who between them have 84 caps for England, an average of 21 each.
Gary Cahill is obviously the most experienced and will act as the leader of the back-line, but the Chelsea defender had a shocking season with the former Premier League champions.
Chris Smalling has played well for United this season, and will probably go into the tournament as England’s best centre back. But even he has shown signs of being exposed, as recently as the FA Cup Final where he ‘rugby tackled’ Yannick Bolasie to the ground and earned himself a red car for his trouble.
Danny Rose lacks international experience, however he has had an amazing season with Tottenham. Clyne has had a decent season for Liverpool. Ryan Bertrand really impressed me with his performances in the warm up match against Australia. John Stones continues to show glimpses of quality, but he is nowhere near the finished product yet. Kyle Walker was sensational against Portugal and I wouldn't be surprised if he did start ahead of Clyne against Russia on Saturday
9 Taking Three Centre Backs and Not Four
It’s a massive issue that I feel has been overlooked by the media because of the other shocking decisions Roy Hodgson has made.
In Gary Cahill, England have a central defender that has previous tournament experience, but he’s had a pretty average season with Chelsea.
Chris Smalling has played only one tournament match for England, a 0-0 draw against Costa Rica at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He’s had a good season at club level for Manchester United.
Finally, although John Stones has been poor this season with Everton, he offers more creativity than both Smalling and Cahill, but his defensive abilities are nowhere to be seen.
Eric Dier goes to the Euros as our 4th and backup centre back as well as being our main defensive midfielder. I think Phil Jagielka should have gone as our 4th centre back, he offers experience and has proven himself in an England shirt.
If injuries strike and we’re left without a proper holding midfielder, then England will be in trouble. Perhaps Michael Carrick should have gone just to provide cover for Dier?
8 Roy Hodgson
Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Roy Hodgson, for a number of reasons. His style of play and player selection often infuriate me. It’s quite often a defensive philosophy, and in my opinion, England don’t have enough quality at the back to sit back and soak up pressure.
Against Australia in our warm-up friendly, England were outplayed, and really struggled in midfield. Our strength is in our attack with the likes of Kane and Vardy, and sometimes I feel that Hodgson doesn't set his team up well in tournaments. I think that for as long as Hodgson is manager of England, we won’t win a major tournament.
7 Underestimating Our Group
England have been placed in Group B, along with Russia, Wales and Slovakia. On the face of it, it’s a pretty easy group, especially when you look at Group D by comparison. However, I think that Roy and England will probably underestimate the quality that all of these opponents have.
Slovakia are arguably the weakest team in the group, yet they beat Spain in qualifying and finished 2nd ahead of Ukraine. Gareth Bale is obviously the major threat for Wales, but their team spirit could be England’s downfall. Finally, Russia sacked former England manager Fabio Capello midway through qualifying and looked set to miss out on automatic qualification. They won their last four games and managed to finish 2nd behind Austria.
I'm honestly expecting us to struggle to get out of this group.
6 Lack of International Experience
Because of the amount of young talent that has come on the scene in the past year, a lot of the squad lacks international and tournament experience.
Danny Rose, for example, will be England’s starting left back in France and he has four caps for England. The other left back, Ryan Bertrand, has eight caps. Eric Dier, England's only ‘true’ holding midfielder in the squad has seven caps, which in my opinion is not really good enough to be starting in a major tournament.
Yes, the three I’ve just mentioned are of great quality, but they lack the experience on the biggest stage. If you look back at past England squads, there have never been so many inexperienced players selected, and it’s quite daunting to know that some of these players will be starting in France.
5 Picking Injury Prone Players
The title of this subheading could have just been renamed "Picking Jack Wilshere." The Arsenal central midfielder has started just one Premier League match this season, yet he still finds himself included in the squad.
You could argue that when Wilshere puts on an England shirt, he delivers, but at the end of the day I feel as though he shouldn't get that chance this time around. He’s been injured for an entire season, yet some players who have played well for an entire season don’t get a look.
Jordan Henderson is another who can count himself lucky to be in the squad, after he also had an injury plagued season. He did feature 16 times for Liverpool, but most of those were at the beginning of the season. The pair haven't looked sharp enough in the friendlies.
4 A Lack of Leaders Within the Squad
This was always going to be a problem with England because of how young our squad is. We lack a leader, or an experienced head in the camp that can really spur the players on.
Wayne Rooney is the most experienced player in the previsional squad of 26 with 111 caps for the national team. James Milner is second with 60 caps, with goalkeeper Joe Hart on 59 caps. What’s startling is that 13 of this 23 man squad have under 20 caps for England.
When I look at previous England captains, Wayne Rooney doesn't come close to the likes of John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and David Beckham. Rooney has only played 10 matches as England captain, so he is relatively inexperienced in the role.
Rooney hasn't really played that well himself this season, and his position in the starting 11 is under threat from the emergence of the likes of Dele Alli and Jamie Vardy. I for one wouldn't be too shocked to see the England captain dropped to the bench.
3 Too Many "Names"
If Wayne Rooney wasn’t England Captain and playing for Manchester United, I think that his position in this England squad would be under threat, let alone his place in the starting 11. Another name in the squad is Raheem Sterling, who has been nothing short of woeful this season. I mean, it takes a lot for someone with as poor end product as Jesus Navas has to displace you in the Manchester City team. Still England do have a bit of a "winger" crisis going on at the moment, especially when you consider Sterling is the only winger in the squad. You could even argue that Sterling's best position is in the number 10 position at the top of the diamond.
2 Big Club Bias
I support one of the "smaller" clubs in England, West Ham United. We finished 7th in the Premier League this season and we’re the only team inside the top 8 not to have a player in the England squad. Now, both Mark Noble and Michail Antonio have had great seasons, yet they haven't been given a chance. How Fabian Delph got into the preliminary England team was beyond me. Delph only played 12 games this season, and he was poor. He was only called up into the squad because he plays for one of the "big clubs."
1 England Are Useless at Major Tournaments
The last time England came close to winning any major tournament was in 1996, when we lost on penalties to Germany in the semi final of the European Championships. Since then, England haven't made it past the quarter finals in both the Euros and the World Cup.
We’ve had much better squads than this one before, which is why I really can’t see us winning the tournament. I think that Germany, France, Belgium and Spain have better squads that us. I would put us on par with the Italians, who are going though the same transitional phase that we are, bringing through younger players in the hope of success in the future.
I think Euro 2016 is one tournament too soon for England. I expect us to be challenging for the World Cup in 2018, but we can use this tournament to give our bright youngsters some much needed international experience.