Written by Rhys Paul
Having looked at the best team Britain and Ireland had to offer from Euro 2016, it seems only fair to look at the other side of the coin. As mentioned in the more positive sister article, three of the four teams under scrutiny can hold their head high. England being the fourth team and the only one to disappoint an entire nation, will unsurprisingly boast the majority of players in this line-up, much like Wales did in the other. The shaming of several England players will hopefully provide some consolation for fans wishing to remember the misery certain individuals caused over the summer. Using a 4-3-1-2 formation, did anybody other than the England team make the worst combined starting XI?
GK: Joe Hart (ENG)
Joe Hart is the No.1. Not just for the worst Home Nations & Irelands XI, but also for the worst XI of the entire tournament. The confidence of Manchester City’s keeper has been exposed as nothing short of arrogance. Two mistakes against Wales and then Iceland highlighted Hart as a pretender in a tournament where goalkeepers like De Gea, Buffon and Rui Patricio showed their worth. He had very little to do in the tournament, yet he was incapable of dealing with the few efforts against him and I can’t even recall him making a single save. Don’t worry Joe, your place in this side is safe.
RB: Ryan Bertrand (ENG)
It was difficult to choose two full-backs and as a result I’ve had to shift Bertrand over to the right. England’s second-choice left-back was one of six changes made for the painful 0-0 stalemate with Slovakia. Unlike fellow replacement, Nathaniel Clyne, he struggled to have the same impact as the man he was replacing. He hardly played badly in that game, but his reluctance to get forward summed up the entire game. His place in this team is less about what he did and more about what he didn’t do.
CB : John O’Shea (IRE)
With Robbie Keane seeing less-and-less game time, O’Shea was given the captain’s armband for the two games in which he featured. He was at fault for goals in both the games against Sweden and Belgium. In both, O’Shea was struggling to deal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku; two strikers who looked a few levels above the Sunderland defender. He was the worst player in the team for those first two games and his replacement for the Italy game, Shane Duffy, immediately strengthened the defence – so much so that he kept O’Shea out the team for the Round-of-16 clash with France.
CB: Ciaran Clark (IRE)
Barring the own goal, Clark put in a solid performance against Sweden. That all changed against Belgium. Clark did not look the same player and almost appeared scared of his opponents. His hesitancy and poor positioning enabled Belgium to stretch their lead to 3-0 and it was that moment which effectively summed up his performance. Another player who was dropped for the next two games, an own goal and a match to forget help Clark into the team.
LB: Shane Ferguson (NIR)
Like Bertrand, Ferguson is a little unlucky to earn a place in this team since he only made one appearance. He only played an hour of football at Euro 2016 and he did next-to-nothing in that time. Ferguson’s place on this list is more down to other players having a greater impact at the tournament.
CM: Paddy McNair (NIR)
As somebody more use to seeing McNair as a defender, I still fail to understand why Michael O’Neill continues to utilise the 21 year old as a defensive midfielder. He looked uncomfortable in the position against Poland and it was clear he was struggling with the pace in the centre of the park. He lost his place in the team thereafter and his only other appearance came as a 90th minute substitute in the 2-0 win over Ukraine.
CM: James McCarthy (IRE)
McCarthy’s Euro 2016 performances wouldn’t have looked out of place in the England team. This is because so much more was expected of the player than what he ultimately produced. Barring a reasonably good game against Italy (although the whole team performed in that match), McCarthy failed to impose himself in any of the games. I thought he looked lazy at times, particularly when he failed to keep track of Axel Witsel in the build-up to Belgium’s second goal.
CM: Dele Alli (ENG)
So much was expected of the 20 year old and the weight of expectation was unfair given his age. Nevertheless, Alli’s form declined significantly from the end of the Premier League season to the start of Euro 2016. Whether it was the effects of an exhausting title race, a rush back from injury or the sheer weight of expectation, Alli failed to do anything of note and his failure to link-up with Kane on the international stage had a detrimental impact on both players.
CAM: Raheem Sterling (ENG)
As a player who was selected on name rather than merit, Sterling did a fantastic job of showing how such a selection method can backfire so tremendously. The fact he was the only natural winger (despite several better alternatives being overlooked) and that he continued to make the starting XI was almost as embarrassing as the 2-1 defeat to Iceland. Sterling has no end product to his game and seems to be only capable of running until he loses the ball.
credit enviro warrior
ST: Harry Kane (ENG)
25 goals last season and 21 the season before that, Kane was a shadow of the striker he’s been for Tottenham over the last couple of years. He is another player who should have been dropped after showing against Russia and Wales that he couldn’t put the ball into the net. Other than a decent volley against Iceland, Kane failed to threaten the opposition goalkeeper with anything significant and he all too often drifted out of games – something that could have been forgiven if he had scored. Along with Hart and Sterling, he was of the key offenders in England’s failure.
ST: Simon Church (WAL)
Easily the toughest place to pick, there was no striker who immediately jumped to mind as deserving a place in the worst XI alongside Kane. I did manage to narrow it down to three – Robbie Keane for having no impact from the bench and looking as if his age is beginning to affect his game, Will Grigg for having his song feature more times than he did and Simon Church for having the opposite effect to what Chris Coleman sent him on for. Church edged it on the basis that I felt Wales needed a representative in the squad. He was brought on during the Portugal game with Wales to provide extra firepower, yet he disappeared from the game altogether within minutes of coming onto the pitch. He’s never been able to replicate his goal-scoring record for the under 21’s at senior level and of all the Welsh players, he looked the most out of his depth at Euro 2016.
Do you agree with these selections? Let us know in the comments below!