England International Football
After the disappointing display at Euro 2016 which culminated in a loss to Iceland in the last 16 – a country that has more volcanoes than professional football players – it was no surprise that Roy Hodgson’s tenure as England manager came to an immediate end with all eyes on the next appointment.
There was huge speculation and debate in the press and amongst the fans on who would be the next manager, with bookmakers compiling a long list of potential managers to bet on. England have had 3 managers in the last 10 years, 2 foreign coaches in Sven-Goran Ericsson and Fabio Capello who was succeeded by Hodgson, so the focus was on the nationality of the new manager. The FA decided it was best to stick with an Englishman, and Sam Allardyce was the strongest candidate in the eyes of the FA, who also interviewed Steve Bruce and Eddie Howe.
Big Sam has made no secret of his desire to be the manager of England, and has interviewed twice for the position previously where he was beaten to the post by Fabio Capello and then Roy Hodgson. He now has his chance with a group of talented but tactically naïve young players, and his first job will be one of motivating them to move on from the lowest point in England’s post war history.
He will take the reins for a friendly on September 1st against and as yet unnamed team, followed by a qualification game away in Slovakia on September 4th, locking horns again with the side England recently drew with in Euro 2016 who will provide a fairly stern test.
His first two matches at Wembley Stadium with World Cup qualification points at stake, and it is vital that England open the home campaign with 2 wins to restore confidence and win back some support from the fans, as well as a highly cynical press.
The first game is against Malta on October 8th, and should be a fairly gentle introduction as they are currently ranked 176 in the world having never qualified for a major tournement. The last time they visited Wembley in 1971, England ran out 5-0 winners (a result that would be, quite frankly, welcome at this moment in time).
The second game is a totally different affair, against the auld enemy Scotland on November 11th, who have a young side with an experienced manager in Gordon Strachan who has had many matches against Sam Allardyce as both player and manager.
Scotland are a young & hungry side, many of whom play in England so will know their opposition and will be smelling blood after seeing what Iceland achieved. The most recent clash between the 2 sides was at Celtic Park in 2014, with England edging out Scotland in a thrilling 3-1 victory. Ominously however, the last time Scotland visited the home of football, they went home with a sweet 1-0 victory in the last international in front of Wembley’s twin towers.