ILL-PREPARED, clueless and frightened.
That’s former Pompey favourite Hermann Hreidarsson’s assessment of England’s woeful exit from the European Championships.
The former Icelandic international saw his country deliver one of the most embarrassing results in the Three Lions’ history last Monday as they triumphed over Roy Hodgson’s side 2-1 in Nice.
Although delighted at the win, Hreidarsson was shocked at what our national side produced.
Hreidarsson told the Mail on Sunday: ‘As badly as England played on Monday when they were knocked out of Euro 2016 by my country – and I’m sad to say England looked ill-prepared, clueless and frightened – I sincerely believe Iceland deserve huge credit.
‘We played fearlessly. England were clueless. They hardly threatened.
‘They looked nervous at losing. You could see it in everything they did – it seemed when they went behind they were paralysed by this terror of losing to “little Iceland”.
‘At a time when they needed to make things happen they retreated into their shells.
‘There was a fear about them that was remarkable.
‘It is no use having great ability and being brilliant in training if you cannot then execute effectively in the 90 minutes that matters.
‘This is never truer than in the big tournaments.’
Iceland’s leveller, after Wayne Rooney had given England an early lead from the penalty spot, came from a long-throw routine they are renowned for.
Hreidarsson couldn’t believe the Three Lions fell for it so easily.
He said: ‘I mean – how did they not know that the long throw-in is a trademark tactic? That’s one of our repeatedly-used weapons.
‘Why is Wayne Rooney marking a strapping centre-half? How is Ragnar Sigurdsson allowed to score? Why wasn’t this eventuality anticipated and drilled over and over?
‘There are only two explanations: England’s preparation was woeful, or Iceland are unstoppable. In this case, I think both.’
Despite the shock result, Hreidarsson – who was a member of Pompey’s 2008 FA Cup-winning team – doesn’t believe the international game is in crisis here.
He said: ‘I don’t think there is some enormous problem with English football, per se, that fearfulness aside.
‘It was a privilege to play in England for 15 years and, like so many of my countrymen, I’m a huge fan of English football – and England.
‘I was excited watching England qualify so smoothly.
‘My expectation was that they would go far, probably beat Iceland and perhaps even go on to win the whole thing.
‘The youth and verve of the squad was – and still is – a reason to be optimistic. But on the day they flunked.’