Euro 2016: The Final Word

Nick Basannavar
Senior England team correspondent, Gadsby's England
London


In the end – and this might not be a popular view – Portugal were utterly apt winners of Euro 2016.

UEFA’s unnecessarily bloated format begot a series of forgettable, cautious, and sometimes downright risible matches of football, including nearly – with thanks to Hungary – all of Portugal’s.

Maybe we got the champions we deserved, but not the ones we need right now.

Inevitably the story had to be about Cristiano Ronaldo, even though throughout this tournament he was only just about as influential as his much-maligned, erstwhile Manchester United colleague Nani.

Ronaldo, taken off in the first half of the final, took to shoving his boss Fernando Santos around on the touchline as he assumed the role of de facto Portugal coach during the 1-0 win over France, before lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy in an act John Terry must have been salivating over from a beach hut somewhere.

Maybe Portugal gave us what we deserved, but not what we need right now















If anything, Portugal looked more cohesive without Ronaldo on the pitch. It remains one of the great footballing quirks that neither of the two great players of the age, Ronaldo or Messi, has won an international tournament with a deciding influence in the final.

Some argue that international football is nowhere near the level of club football any more, so to measure players by the yardstick of tournament success is an antiquated and unrealistic device.

Certainly this tournament produced a randomness at times that stood in sharp contrast to the daily, familiar regimen of club football: step up Éderzito António Macedo Lopes, a player who looked out of his depth at Swansea City, to win the cup with a majestic sweep of the right boot.

Nothing ignites the passion like a summer international engagement. Portugal’s victory will no doubt have been bittersweet for Ronaldo, for all his European Cups and Ballons D’Or.

The freshness of Wales and Iceland’s campaigns took everyone by pleasant surprise, but there was a certain glory, too, in Éder’s winner, and vindication for a country which has done all but win a major trophy over the last 15 years.

Nonetheless, Portugal is a side nowhere near the winning standard of the previous four international tournaments. This year Germany were again the best team, but totally lacked in cutting edge when it counted. In the round, we had patchy episodes of gripping football, set against a backdrop of some of the best fan support seen in some time.

How grimly, desperately ironic that the tournament – Russia vs England aside – should go off without major incident only for the senseless attack in Nice to bring a pall upon Europe again just days after the final.

Let’s remember some of the good times. From Irishmen fixing cars, to the Icelandic slow clap, to Will Grigg’s combustive state, this was a great tournament to be a fan – unless you were stuck along one of Marseille’s claustrophobic alleyways on 11 June.

Whilst England’s fans managed to move on from the brutality of their Russian encounter, the players they were there to support regressed entirely as the tournament went on.

It’s all been said already about the ineptitude of this England team. The only thing more disturbing than sitting through their Euro 2016 campaign might just be waking up to find out that Sam Allardyce is the man entrusted with putting it right.
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Gadsby's England at Euro 2016: au devoir and adieu, it's the final review with Gadsby and Carlos


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Euro 2016 video webcast: Henry Winter, Chief Football Writer of The Times

Saggers, Millsy, how could we possibly top that? Well, it's an honour today to welcome Henry Winter, Chief Football Writer of The Times, to Gadsby's England for the first time. 

Henry Winter is one of the most respected and influential football journalists of our time; his insights, criticisms, unique analysis of the England team in particular resonates more than any other UK football journalist. If there is one column that managers and players take note of, it will be Henry's.

Henry has covered England at tournaments for many years, but not only is he the most outstanding England correspondent, he is also a passionate fan, caring -- and worrying -- deeply about the state of English football. It is a privilege for myself and Gadsby's England to have him join us for a special Gadsby's England Euro 2016 video webcast.

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Euro 2016 video podcast, Special Guest -- Former England Defender Danny Mills


Thanks to Danny Mills (apart from the p***-taking!) for a brilliant live video podcast from Paris. Available to view again now.

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Euro 2016 video podcast: Special Guest Mark Saggers, Chief Sports Presenter and Anchor of TalkSport

Delighted to welcome Mark Saggers to our Gadsby's England Euro 2016 video podcasts. Recorded live in Paris. Wisdom, wit -- and wallop.



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Every tournament defeat is somehow worse than the others, like a recovering alcoholic going clean for two years before an inevitable, crushing return to the bottle.

Nick Basannavar
Gadsby's England Senior England Correspondent
London

Misery: A Saga Spanning 50 Years

Et tu, England? In a week of political betrayals, the national team’s most recent insult to the country feels horribly apposite. 

These are tumultuous days. Yet such was the shocking nature of England’s defeat to Iceland  that it has rivalled the break up of the European Union for front-page material. 

In the days since England’s exit, big-name bastions of the EU have seen their football teams succeed in making the semi-finals: Portugal, Germany, probably France tonight. 

And then there’s Wales. Their people voted overwhelmingly to leave Europe. Their football team won’t listen. 

Now that a little time has passed since the Iceland shambles, it is really Wales’ success in the past week that has thrown the most shame over England’s failings.

This Welsh team was reared in the same domestic bunfight as the English. In fact, the three Welsh scorers against Belgium were born, respectively, in Wolverhampton, Acton, and Southampton. Yes, people of Wales: you’ll be much better off without immigrants. 

More to the point for us is that these (let’s face it, English) players presumably picked Wales thinking they might actually get an international game. Why is it that Premier League and Championship players succeed for Wales, but not for England?

That’s the crux. It makes you think that this isn’t so much a question of quality at all – although one would still expect Germany, Spain or France to prevail in a knockout tie with England on quality alone. 

There are certainly things we need to do about quality. This outlet has always argued for more English players to go and experience the game abroad. And the largely invisible battle to turn around our grassroots game continues, with the FA wildly promising a harvest coming in Qatar in 2022. 

But forget all that for now. Because an England team simply should beat Iceland. And not because Iceland has a population smaller than the size of an outer London borough, barren tundra, malfunctioning volcanoes and various other patronising stereotypes, but because they are better than them. 

No, there is something else festering in the English football mindset. Every tournament defeat is somehow worse than the others, like a recovering alcoholic going clean for two years before an inevitable, crushing return to the bottle. The scars accumulate. ‘It’s not the despair, Laura. I can stand the despair. It’s the hope…’ 

It's been two years...please, just one drink...

Well this time, watching the best striker in England shanking free kicks onto the beaches of Nice, we know they have melted. Frozen. Finished. 

The only conclusion is that the England team, as an institution, has died. It has died from a collective mental illness. And it looks like it is going to stay dead for a long time. 



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Finally, the England post-mortem podcast...


...though it's the usual every-other-year England-tournament-exit post-mortem, but has there even been -- and this takes some doing -- a lower point in the history of English football? It's taken all week to fish Gadsby and Carlos out of the Seine, but here is the most in-depth on-air discussion on the utter shambles that was England's European Championships of 2016. At the same time, Gadsby and Carlos bow down at Wales's magnificent feet (feat).

(Please note this was taped before the Germany vs Italy QF)

PODCAST: England out in Icelandic ignominy 



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LATEST Euro 2016 Video Podcast


Gadsby and Ratters' video podcast, which aired live from the Côte d'Azur yesterday

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England vs Iceland – Euro 2016 Match Preview

Nick Basannavar
Senior England team correspondent

Nothing that has happened since last week’s arid 0-0 draw with Slovakia should make Roy Hodgson or his England team feel too much better about themselves.  

Germany have just made embarrassingly light work of the same opponents: 3-0, with almost everything to spare, against a team that managed to hold England at arm’s length. 

Many English apologists pointed to Slovakia’s 3-1 friendly win in Augsburg before the tournament as a means of justifying last week’s goalless draw. ‘Slovakia are no mugs’, they said. ‘They turned Germany over in their own back yard.’

Give over. Even England won a friendly in Germany this year.



Part of Germany’s enormous recent success is that they are ready when it matters – and not when a meaningless international game or qualifier suggests differently.

England have their work cut out so as not to prove the unfortunate opposite to this rule. A perfect qualifying record? Tick. Encouraging friendly wins in the build up? Tick. Yet once again a flat start to a major tournament.

Nonetheless, even an Iceland team riding on a volcanic wave should be overcome relatively comfortably. If not, we can ready ourselves for a second ignominious European exit in the space of four days. 

There are no more half measures now. Roy Hodgson simply has to get his selection and his team’s performance right.

No more whingeing about dominating games. No more talk of possession statistics or efforts at goal. Only a convincing result will do.

England fans are tired of hearing that reaching the knockout stages of major tournaments is enough of an achievement. Not when they have the richest league – and second tier – in European football. Not when they finally have a row of forwards seemingly able to score a hatful of goals, and the best group of young players in a generation. 

There can be no doubt that England have made great strides since Euro 2012 and Brazil 2014. To see an England team playing the ball with such authority and technique is a rare sight. 

Yet there are caveats to this. One is that all of England’s opponents so far have been more than happy to let them have the ball. When Spain or Germany come knocking, do we really expect Eric Dier to complete more than 100 successful passes? 

The other is that having the ball is harmless unless you can put it in the net.

Thanks largely to Hodgson’s meddling last week, England lie on the wrong side of the draw. France are – just about – safely through, lying in wait in a Paris quarter final with confidence growing.

There have been big words from Hodgson and Gary Cahill, warning future opponents that a big win is just around the corner. It simply has to come on Monday night. 

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Gadsby's England EURO 2016 Podcast -- Last 16 Preview AVAILABLE NOW


There's no Brexit on the football pitch, thank you very much. It's another Gadsby's England Euro 2016 Special as we reach the business end of the tournament. Gadsby and Carlos preview a last 16 with the fantastic achievement of all the home nations voting to REMAIN, and Ireland playing hosts France. 
Will England be able to melt down the boys from Iceland in the heat of the Côte d'Azur? And what about this: Northern Ireland or Wales will be in the quarterfinal of the European Championships. Dreamland. Gadsby and Carlos discuss which of the two it's likely to be. And Ireland's grudge match against the French, a chance to avenge THAT handball in the World Cup qualifying playoff in 2009. It's going to be a mouthwatering weekend and Gadsby's England will be there throughout. 

Available now:

PODCAST: GADSBY'S ENGLAND EURO 2016 LAST 16 PREVIEW


This show is dedicated to the memory of 
Grigor Spasov Iliev
a great friend of Carlos, who very sadly passed away in Sofia earlier this week.

www.csrnusa.com
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