England vs Iceland: Roy Hodgson’s Team Suffers Humiliating Euro 2016 Exit

England captain Wayne Rooney, far right.
England captain Wayne Rooney at Stade de Nice, Nice, France, June 27. Rooney and England suffered a humiliating exit from Euro 2016 against Iceland. Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Surely, we thought, England could not do an England this time.

Iceland’s story was a lovely one, but its journey was meant to end here, on the French Riviera, against a technically superior side.

Instead, after an early penalty from Wayne Rooney , England suffered perhaps its most humiliating defeat of modern times to exit UEFA Euro 2016 at the round of 16 stage.

What else did we learn from an abject defeat? Newsweek attempts to unpick the mess.

England can’t deal with English tactics

Two Iceland attacks, and two Iceland goals. And the strangest thing was that the first came straight from the Premier League playbook.

Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling and Kyle Walker, for that matter—for it was he who was ultimately at fault—must have faced the agricultural hurl into the box on hundreds of occasions.

In the humidity and pressure of Nice, though, they manifestly failed to deal with it. Was it a lack of technical proficiency? Unlikely. More probably, and more evidently, against inferior opposition England lost its sangfroid.

Harry Kane is a shadow of his Premier League self

Every successful team—or every successful England team, at least—needs a center forward on form.

Perhaps Harry Kane has simply played too much football in the past year; perhaps England’s system has yet to get the best out of him. Whatever the real reason—or a combination of them—Kane was listless on the night.

Worse still, despite his obvious lack of confidence, Kane kept dropping deep, stymieing England’s admittedly lacklustre attacks.

With Tottenham Hotspur, Kane looks a burgeoning superstar. With England, he is cowed. It’s not you, it’s me, England might say to him. The reality is, it’s both.

Hodgson’s substitutions a head-scratcher

The clock ticked on, Iceland looked more and more comfortable, and yet England’s manager left Manchester United’s tyro Marcus Rashford, the 18-year-old, just five minutes of game time.

06_27_euro_01 England's Joe Hart looks dejected after England's 2-1 loss to Iceland. Yves Herman/Reuters

When Rashford did come on, it was Wayne Rooney, not Kane, who made way—though in truth, both had been as poor as each other.

Hodgson showed an adventurous spirit in the group stages, when he brought Rashford and Vardy on against Wales and put pedal to metal.

When it was least wanted, though, his natural conservatism showed itself. Rashford’s entrance came too late, as, arguably, did that of Vardy. England’s manager is surely now on borrowed time.

Where now for Rooney?

England’s captain cannot be accused of a lack of effort, but statistics showed he lost the ball more than any other player on the pitch.

The side’s playmaker, it is time to admit, is deeply flawed. Rooney lacks pace, forcing him to move further backwards in the formation. But, more damagingly, his technique now appears to be lacking.

Rooney sweated, he strived, but when England needed skill over gusto, he could not deliver. The record goalscorer is not done at international here. But where he, and his country, go from here is unclear