Max Morland discusses how England’s Liverpool players performed after yet another dismal international tournament.
In the aftermath of England’s humiliating defeat to Iceland on Monday evening The Three Lions were rightly criticized for their lacklustre display in the Euros. With former Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson resigning as manager just minutes after the end of the match, I take a look at how the 5 Reds players performed for England over the course of the tournament.
Adam Lallana was arguably one of England’s best players in the Euros, starting all three group stage matches, and, if not for a foot injury, would likely have taken the place of Raheem Sterling against Iceland. The 28 year old, as he showed consistently for Liverpool last season, was tireless in his efforts to regain the ball high up the pitch, which may stem from Jürgen Klopp’s tactics with the Reds.
Despite this, Lallana’s main downfall in the seasons he has been at Liverpool is his final product. The 28 year old did not manage to either score or assist a goal, and he created just a single clear cut chance in the three games that he played. Klopp must now decide if Lallana can contribute to the Liverpool’s style of play enough to warrant a place in the team, perhaps without directly contributing to goals.
After England’s 1-1 draw with Russia in the first game of the group stages, in which Sturridge did not feature, many fans called for Hodgson to play the forward after the poor performance of Harry Kane. Despite not starting the match against Wales, Sturridge was brought on at half time along with fellow striker Jamie Vardy, and he proved his worth by rescuing a last-gasp winner for England.
Perhaps as a result of that goal, Sturridge was gifted a starting role by Hodgson, both against Slovakia, and Iceland in the next round. However, the 26 year old was not nearly as effective in either of these matches, especially when he was forced onto the right wing against the former, to accommodate the disappointing Harry Kane in a more central role.
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In terms of how Sturridge will perform next season, it depends on whether he is able to maintain a starting role in the team, free of injuries and other problems which have held back his career over the last 2 seasons. If he is to play regularly, as is to be assumed, barring any injuries, Sturridge will be hoping for a repeat of the 2013/14 season, when he formed a deadly attacking partnership with Luis Suarez. In that season, Sturridge played 29 matches in the Premier League, compared to just 26 in the previous 2 seasons.
Despite playing for just 1 match against Slovakia in the Euros, Clyne proved that he possesses the quality to be England’s first choice right back, ahead of Kyle Walker. The Spurs fullback, who played in all but one of England’s matches, was a threat in the attacking third, but once again demonstrated his defensive weaknesses. Against Iceland, a momentary lapse of concentration caused England to concede the equaliser, and ultimately, their place in the European Championships.
Clyne, on the other hand, was Liverpool’s most consistent performer last season, and, if not for Walkers’ impressive display against Portugal, would have likely started in the Euros. Clyne is regarded by many as a reserved, defensive-minded full-back, and yet, against Slovakia, he was able to give England a valuable option going forward, whilst diligently sticking to his task defensively.
With his starting place in Jürgen Klopp’s side under no threat following last season, Clyne will hopefully continue his consistently good form into the next campaign, and provide Liverpool with attacking options, whilst keeping the opposition restricted in the defensive third, as he did last year. He has proven to be a bargain at just £12.5 million from Southampton last summer.
Similarly to Clyne, Jordan Henderson was limited to just 1 appearance at the Euros. The Liverpool captain, who turned 26 last month, played his only match in the draw against Slovakia, a game in which he divided opinion. In many ways, the 90 minutes was a summary of his entire season at Liverpool.
On one hand, fans said that Henderson was an energetic and lively force in a midfield trio, alongside Eric Dier and Jack Wilshere. For the full 90 minutes, the 26 year old never looked tired, perhaps as a result of his absence in the last part of the season, and he created 2 clear cut goal scoring chances, the most of any England player in the tournament, despite playing just 1 of a possible 4 matches.
On the other hand, many fans on social media claimed that Henderson had performed poorly, and lacked quality and a creative spark when the game was tight. This may be a harsh judgement, considering Wilshere and Dier offered next-to-nothing as attacking threats. These judjements clearly don’t include Hendo’s brilliant lob to set Jamie Vardy through on goal.
Henderson, at least, attempted to make things happen in a stagnant overall performance by England.
This performance from the Liverpool captain perfectly sums up his season- full of effort, passion, commitment, and desire to do well, but, lacking the quality of the top midfielders in today’s game.
Unfortunately for James Milner, Roy Hodgson decided that the Liverpool midfielder was surplus to requirements in the Euros, therefore giving the Reds man just a 5 minute run out as a replacement for Raheem Sterling in England’s first game against Russia. As a result, Milner was given little chance to stake his claim for a place in the team for the next 3 matches.
However, fortunately for the tireless midfielder, he is likely to be given more of a chance by Klopp at Liverpool after impressing in the second half of last season. Milner’s versatility give Klopp plenty of options, with Milner able to play in the centre of midfield, or in a more advanced role. Hopefully, the vice-captain can continue his good form into next season, and become a more important figure both on the pitch, as well as in the dressing room. He is very experienced and so younger players will look up to him as a role model.