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Roy Crouchson - Taking England to Poland & Ukraine 2012

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It was weird tonight. I actually saw evidence in the first 15 minutes, that we could keep the ball and be patient. Then all of a sudden we started lumping it forward until half time. Luckily we held on. Credit goes to Roy for the second half performance. We were solid, and to me, didn't look like conceeding. They can hit it from 35 yards all they want. They're not beating Hart from there. I think Roy was that much so Ill suited to the Liverpool job, that he might actually be a master stroke as the england boss.

I expect us to beat the Italians. I want to see Milner on the left and Walcott on the right. I think with them playing a 5 in midfield though, we need to make provisions for that. I'd go toe to toe. Pick 5 in midfield, drop Welbeck, play Rodney upfront (deliberate Only fools mistake :) ) and Gerrard behind him. I'd play Henderson with Parker behind then and Walcott and Milner on the wings. The back 4 picks itself!

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Who is nervous about tonight then? I am!

On topic, I have plenty of updates to make to this thread but I haven't been able to get on Photobucket at all today. I've just got on now to get access to my images but I'm about to do my real life pre-match preparations (i.e. beers in the fridge, dinner on etc.)! ;)

So tomorrow, we'll continue with Roy Crouchson's career as we move into 2015. :)

I was nervous as hell too! Wasn't nervous during the game though actually, I felt quite calm about it. I think we always had a degree of control, even when Ukraine were dominating the ball they never really threatened to be honest. I don't know, I just thought we didn't look like conceding at any point really - which sounds weird considering Hart spilled that stinger from 25 yards and Terry cleared it from (probably) past the goalline (although Milevskyi was offside in the buildup so swings and roundabouts).

Looking forward to the Italy game - could be quite an attritional, tactical battle which will be interesting. The thing about Italy is it'll be hard to know what to predict from them - they could easily line up 4-3-1-2 or 3-5-2. I wonder if Roy will have the wherewithal to change our system drastically to adapt to an opposing 3-man defence. To be honest, he's called everything else right this tournament, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt! Even if we go out to Italy I think he's done a fantastic job.

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International Friendly 2015 - England 3 Norway 0

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We recorded an excellent victory at Wembley in our first match of 2015.

I tried Phil Jones in the more defensive central midfield slot and he did well. At this stage, I'm wondering whether he would be better there than at centre-back as he doesn't quite have all of the attributes I want for a defender. To be honest, Jones actually doesn't have quite the attributes I want for any specific position. He might just end up being that versatile player who 'fills in' in various positions rather than claiming a position of his own in the first-team. However, he still has time to improve.

Cleverley did well behind Rooney in the 4-4-1-1, so I'm pleased with that. Smalling and Shawcross look good together and could well become the main centre-back partnership.

All in all, some good experimentation and a great result.

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Euro Qualifiers, Group A - England 3 Iceland 0

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Completely dominant and should probably have scored more.

Rooney was missing so I went with Welbeck up front with Cleverly in the AM slot behind him. Shawcross and Smalling continued together at the back. Rodwell came in to start in the number 4 shirt.

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Euro Qualifiers, Group A - Slovakia 0 England 2

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Not the most convincing performance but at the same time we never looked like dropping any points here.

Tom Cleverley with the man of the match award and I'm feeling happier each game with him in the AM position behind a lone central striker.

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Euro Qualifiers, Group A - Albania 1 England 1

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Maybe complacency got the better of us today? I don't know but we definitely weren't good enough.

Danny Welbeck was particularly poor and I'm getting frustrated with him. I've never felt that he is a clinical enough striker and he lacks the anticipation and off the ball movement I would expect from a top forward.

We really dropped two points here. We have to hope that Turkey, as our main rivals in this group, also falter at some point against lesser opposition.

We've got Turkey in our next game, actually, and a win at Wembley would really help us out.

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Euro Qualifiers, Group A - England 0 Turkey 0

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Wayne Rooney returned but he wasn't able to help us overcome Turkey. We outplayed the opposition but couldn't find the back of the net and were left frustrated.

A draw isn't a terrible result, I guess, but we now go into the final three games hoping that we can win all of them and that Turkey might slip up significantly.

That needs to happen for us to win the group, of course, but actually under the new European Championships qualifying rules for the 2016 tournament (Euro 2016 is expanding to 24 teams), we will actually qualify even if we finish in second place without any need for the play-offs.

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Euro Qualifiers, Group A - England 5 San Marino 0

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As you'd expect, we hammer San Marino.

Not much to say really apart from that I decided to start with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right. With Lennon playing poorly when I call upon him and with Milner being a decidedly more defensive option, Oxlade-Chamberlain could be key to getting the offensive side of our game right for the Euros.

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Euro Qualifiers, Group A - England 2 Slovakia 1

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We were dominant but this score line was much closer than I would have liked it to have been.

With Wilshere unavailable, I experimented with a Huddlestone and Rodwell central midfield. I also brought on Jonjo Shelvey who could well be an option in the future.

We got the win and the three points which is all that counts really but I wish we were a bit more creative and clinical when we are the favourites.

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Not a great qualifying campaign, but still relatively easy qualification due to the new format, Just need to improve for the competition proper in order to defend your title.

I'm not as far in as you on my England save but I'm also finding Cleverley to be particularly impressive although I'm playing him at MC as an Advanced Playmaker rather than behind the striker like that. Welbeck seems a bit of a disappointment for you, he hasn't yet challenged Rooney or Bent yet on mine, but has done okay in friendlies. Good luck with the draw, if you get a kind one, you could well find yourselves in the second round, from where it's anyone's game, but you really need to get some performances from your faltering players in the pre-tournament friendlies. That's if you qualify anyway, is there any danger of finishing third?

Also, as I got no helpful answers at all when I asked in GD, how did you get your squad numbers looking like that? I've tried a number of different ways and just can't do it!

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Euro Qualifiers, Group A - Iceland 2 England 3

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Wilshere was back in the team but this time we were missing Rooney. Welbeck came in up front to replace him.

Not sure what we were playing at in letting Iceland get anywhere near us in this game. Still, we got the win despite some very poor defending. Why do we so often struggle when we are the favourites?

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Not a great qualifying campaign, but still relatively easy qualification due to the new format, Just need to improve for the competition proper in order to defend your title.

Indeed. I always knew that it wasn't going to be super smooth running as I dropped a number of players and went down the route of planning for the future.

I'm not as far in as you on my England save but I'm also finding Cleverley to be particularly impressive although I'm playing him at MC as an Advanced Playmaker rather than behind the striker like that.

On my save, I don't think Cleverley has the attributes I would want him to have to be super effective in the middle of the park, so I've given him the less disciplined role behind the striker.

Welbeck seems a bit of a disappointment for you, he hasn't yet challenged Rooney or Bent yet on mine, but has done okay in friendlies.

Welbeck is a big disappointment at the moment. He just doesn't have quite the attributes I want to be a quality striker.

Spoiler alert! :D

I don't want to spoil anything but at some point in the future, I do decide to recall Darren Bent. It was a mistake to drop him and I should have stuck with him. I really wanted Welbeck or Sturridge to be a success and to replace him but the fact is that Bent is the superior goal scorer. Perhaps Welbeck or Sturridge will improve their mental attributes in the future but both, at the moment, aren't as good as Bent.

Good luck with the draw, if you get a kind one, you could well find yourselves in the second round, from where it's anyone's game, but you really need to get some performances from your faltering players in the pre-tournament friendlies. That's if you qualify anyway, is there any danger of finishing third?

No, we'll finish in the top two. At this stage, we have at least secured that.

As for the tournament, who knows! The most worrying sign is that we struggle when we are the favourites. I could see us having a good tournament if we play bigger sides and a poor tournament if we are favourites for a lot of games!

Thinking back to Euro 2012, we were the underdogs for so much of it, and it really helped, so it has probably been a long-term issue. Ultimately, my worry at this stage has been our poor performances and our inability to capitalise when we are expected to create chances and dominate a game.

Also, as I got no helpful answers at all when I asked in GD, how did you get your squad numbers looking like that? I've tried a number of different ways and just can't do it!

I dragged the players around. For example, the number 6 was in midfield and the 4 in defence, so I literally picked up the shirts, moved them into different positions, and then moved them into the (now) empty slots that I wanted to fill.

It has always bothered me that FM doesn't have the traditional numbers so I've made a point of altering it on every FM I play. :D

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Euro 2016 Qualifying, Group A Final Standings:

Click here for the final table!

We finished second, level on points with Turkey but behind them on goal difference. We had the superior defensive record but didn't score as many goals as Turkey. It just goes to show that we didn't win convincingly enough against the smaller sides.

I'm happy enough to be going to the tournament and in truth it was a relatively trouble free campaign. Still, if this was World Cup qualifying, we would be facing a play-off situation now and that is something that I badly want to avoid when we go into World Cup 2018 qualifying.

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International Friendly 2015 - England 3 Northern Ireland 1

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We end 2015 with a couple of friendly matches, this being the first of the two.

I this match as an opportunity to do a lot of experimenting. The keeper and back four were all new(ish) selections. It was also an experimental midfield with Jack Cork getting a debut to see what he could do and also Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Johnson starting in the wide positions. Up front, I went with the usual Cleverley and Rooney selection.

Our of the more experimental selections, Oxlade-Chamberlain made the best case for inclusion in my Euro 2016 squad.

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International Friendly 2015 - England 3 Switzerland 0

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I took another chance to look a fringe/younger players in this match.

A very solid victory with Oxlade-Chamberlain doing himself a lot of good in terms of proving himself to try to get into my Euro 2016 team.

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We've been drawn in Euro 2016's Group C.

Group C:


| Pos   | Inf   | Team     |       | Pld   | Won   | Drn   | Lst   | For   | Ag    | G.D.  | Pts   | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 1st   |       | Portugal |       | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
[b]| 2nd   |       | England  |       | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | [/b]
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 3rd   |       | Turkey   |       | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 4th   |       | Poland   |       | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 0     | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 

A pretty tricky group actually. Portugal won't be an easy game; it would be great to repeat what we did to them in Euro 2012! :D Turkey will be tough as we found out in qualifying. Finally, Poland won't be walkovers, but we would hope to get three points there.

Should be interesting. I think due to the expansion that most teams in third place will qualify for the second round anyway (I think the four third placed sides with the most points will go through). Makes a bit of a mockery of the group stages really and I don't like the format but there we go!

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Not an easy group indeed, not quite the level of dilution people fear the expansion will lead to.

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International Friendly 2016 - England 0 Paraguay 0

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Quite an experimental side in the first friendly match of 2016, with the likes of Kyle Bartley, Jack Cork and Jordan Henderson starting.

A pretty uninspiring performance. We were in charge but, as usual, didn't create enough and weren't clinical enough with the chances that we did create.

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Final England Squad for Euro 2016!

Click here to see my squad selection for Euro 2016!

There were some injuries and also a few surprises.

Chris Smalling, Steven Taylor and Theo Walcott were all injured and unavailable for the tournament. Losing Chris Smalling was a blow as he was one of my preferred starting centre-backs.

Ashley Young and Aaron Lennon were dropped! Young has been pretty average for England for a long time and I've been more and more disappointed with him. I feel I have better options on the left and it's the same story with Lennon really. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner, Adam Johnson and Jordan Henderson were my preferred wide players for this tournament.

I will also share some screenshots of my 'star' players going into this tournament so you can see how the players have developed. These are the star players according to the information screen on the club/nation page so not my choices but what the game tells me are the best players.

Joe Hart

Phil Jones

Jack Wilshere

Wayne Rooney

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International Friendly 2016 - England 1 Italy 4

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The last friendly before the Euro 2016 tournament begins brings humiliation for Roy Crouchson's team at Wembley. This is really not how you want to prepare for a tournament.

I wish I could say that this was a weakened team but it wasn't. We were so poor at the back that it was embarrassing.

Phil Jones, in for Chris Smalling, had an absolute shocker in defence and Ryan Shawcross didn't do a lot better.

This result and performance does not fill me with much confidence going into the Euros. :(

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UEFA European Championships, Group C - England 3 Portugal 2

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We get one over the Portuguese again at the Euros just as we did in Euro 2012!

Rooney stole the three points with an injury time penalty after Tom Huddlestone and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had twice given us the lead earlier in the game.

Our Euro 2016 campaign gets off to a fabulous start!

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UEFA European Championships, Group C - Poland 1 England 0

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After doing the hard work against Portugal, we fell apart in what should have been an easier match against Poland. Unbelievable.

Poland went ahead through a penalty in the second minute of the match. For the rest of the game, we were on top but we just weren't creative enough nor clinical enough. We also looked as if we could easily be caught on the break at times.

Rooney had an absolute shocker and Cleverley didn't do much better. We just didn't look like scoring all game.

Not good enough. We look weak at the back and poor in creating and taking our chances. We must improve hugely in order to get anywhere in this tournament.

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UEFA European Championships, Group C - Turkey 0 England 0

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There wasn't really anything in it in this very tight match. Turkey are a good side, as we found out in qualifying, and we couldn't really create much against them. At the same time, we didn't look troubled by them either.

For a team trying to defend their title here, we are looking very disappointing.

We lost Jack Wilshere in this match and he will miss the rest of the tournament, which is bad news for us as he is one of our best and most creative players.

Thanks to the new competition format, we got through the group stages even though we didn't really deserve to!

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Final Standings:

Group A:

| Pos   | Inf   | Team           |       | Pld   | Won   | Drn   | Lst   | For   | Ag    | G.D.  | Pts   | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 1st   | Q     | France         |       | 3     | 2     | 0     | 1     | 6     | 1     | +5    | 6     | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 2nd   | Q     | Czech Republic |       | 3     | 1     | 1     | 1     | 1     | 2     | -1    | 4     | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 3rd   | Q     | Sweden         |       | 3     | 1     | 1     | 1     | 1     | 4     | -3    | 4     | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 4th   |       | Ireland        |       | 3     | 1     | 0     | 2     | 1     | 2     | -1    | 3     | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 

Group B:

| Pos   | Inf   | Team    |       | Pld   | Won   | Drn   | Lst   | For   | Ag    | G.D.  | Pts   | 
| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 1st   | Q     | Germany |       | 3     | 3     | 0     | 0     | 10    | 4     | +6    | 9     | 
| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 2nd   | Q     | Italy   |       | 3     | 1     | 1     | 1     | 4     | 3     | +1    | 4     | 
| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 3rd   |       | Romania |       | 3     | 0     | 2     | 1     | 4     | 5     | -1    | 2     | 
| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 4th   |       | Ukraine |       | 3     | 0     | 1     | 2     | 1     | 7     | -6    | 1     | 
| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 

Group C:

| Pos   | Inf   | Team     |       | Pld   | Won   | Drn   | Lst   | For   | Ag    | G.D.  | Pts   | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 1st   | Q     | Turkey   |       | 3     | 2     | 1     | 0     | 4     | 2     | +2    | 7     | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 2nd   | Q     | Poland   |       | 3     | 1     | 1     | 1     | 3     | 3     | 0     | 4     | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
[b]| 3rd   | Q     | England  |       | 3     | 1     | 1     | 1     | 3     | 3     | 0     | 4     | [/b]
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 4th   |       | Portugal |       | 3     | 0     | 1     | 2     | 2     | 4     | -2    | 1     | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 

Group D:

| Pos   | Inf   | Team        |       | Pld   | Won   | Drn   | Lst   | For   | Ag    | G.D.  | Pts   | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 1st   | Q     | Netherlands |       | 3     | 2     | 0     | 1     | 4     | 3     | +1    | 6     | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 2nd   | Q     | Denmark     |       | 3     | 1     | 2     | 0     | 4     | 2     | +2    | 5     | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 3rd   | Q     | Austria     |       | 3     | 1     | 1     | 1     | 3     | 3     | 0     | 4     | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 4th   |       | Scotland    |       | 3     | 0     | 1     | 2     | 2     | 5     | -3    | 1     | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 

Group E:

| Pos   | Inf   | Team       |       | Pld   | Won   | Drn   | Lst   | For   | Ag    | G.D.  | Pts   | 
| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 1st   | Q     | Spain      |       | 3     | 2     | 1     | 0     | 7     | 1     | +6    | 7     | 
| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 2nd   | Q     | Belgium    |       | 3     | 2     | 1     | 0     | 4     | 2     | +2    | 7     | 
| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 3rd   | Q     | Montenegro |       | 3     | 1     | 0     | 2     | 2     | 5     | -3    | 3     | 
| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 4th   |       | Greece     |       | 3     | 0     | 0     | 3     | 1     | 6     | -5    | 0     | 
| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 

Group F:

| Pos   | Inf   | Team        |       | Pld   | Won   | Drn   | Lst   | For   | Ag    | G.D.  | Pts   | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 1st   | Q     | Wales       |       | 3     | 3     | 0     | 0     | 5     | 0     | +5    | 9     | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 2nd   | Q     | Switzerland |       | 3     | 2     | 0     | 1     | 6     | 3     | +3    | 6     | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 3rd   |       | Croatia     |       | 3     | 0     | 1     | 2     | 2     | 5     | -3    | 1     | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 4th   |       | Bulgaria    |       | 3     | 0     | 1     | 2     | 2     | 7     | -5    | 1     | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 

Scotland and Ireland go home early but once again Wales are doing fantastically!

Guess who we play in the second round?

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Good job the format changed :D

It was a tough group though, Turkey and Poland aren't what I'd class as easy games. They're always tight affairs and can sneak a goal.

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A much more difficult group stage there!

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UEFA European Championships Second Round - Wales 1 England 1 (England win 4-3 on penalties)

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We were without Wilshere due to injury and Rooney due to suspension (he picked up yellow cards versus Portugal and Turkey).

A very even game indeed. We should have been favourites but Wales were having none of it.

We led through a 23rd minute set-piece goal from defender Kyle Barley, who I started with ahead of Phil Jones due to his superior aerial ability.

I thought we had Wales beaten but we never added a second goal and never looked comfortable as Wales matched us. We picked up a number of bookings due to frustration as we tried and failed to take control of the game.

In the third minute of injury time, Wales found an equaliser. Unbelievable.

Extra-time came and went with neither side looking as if they were going to win the match. Then it went to penalties.

Knowing that my players and their penalty abilities were mediocre at best, I decided just to leave it to chance. Amazingly, we were the winners of the lottery that is the penalty shoot-out. Goodness knows how.

Without our two best outfield players, Wilshere and Rooney, we were very ordinary indeed. Once again, Danny Welbeck let me down in a big way when I called upon him to come into the team. Daniel Sturridge, who replaced him as a sub, wasn't much better. I started to hugely regret dropping Bent and wished for someone with his abilities in front of goal, as we are clearly lacking in that department without Rooney.

There is a fine line between success and failure. Losing this penalty shoot-out would surely have been the end of Roy Crouchson. Winning it has kept him in the England hot seat. Well, for at least one more game.

Sweden next in the quarter-finals.

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Good job the format changed :D

It was a tough group though, Turkey and Poland aren't what I'd class as easy games. They're always tight affairs and can sneak a goal.

A much more difficult group stage there!

I think you're being too easy on Roy Crouchson. He's clearly bottling it! :p

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UEFA European Championships Quarter-finals - Sweden 1 England 1 (Sweden win 2-1 on penalties)

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We were the better side, created more chances and probably should have won the game. However, we were wasteful in front of goal, even though I tried various tactical ploys to try to increase the quality of our chances.

I can point the finger at various players. For example, Ryan Shawcross was extremely poor and made a big mistake for Sweden's goal. Also, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a very poor game. On top of these two examples, I finally began to lose patience with James Milner. In the side due to his incredible work rate, I feel his lack of technical ability at times costs us in terms of being creative going forward.

Sweden went ahead through their first-half goal and we managed to equalise in the second-half thanks to Wayne Rooney. After an uneventful extra-time, it was down to the lottery of penalties again and we were terrible, obviously having used up all of our luck against Wales in the last round. We missed four out of five penalties with even Rooney fluffing his effort.

I had taken to playing Tom Huddlestone and Phil Jones in midfield in the absence of Jack Wilshere. We really missed Wilshere's technical qualities. Although Huddlestone is a half decent technical player and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is an exciting young wide player, that midfield otherwise looks pretty dour. It's 100% work rate but where is the creativity and flair going to come from? Not from the likes of Milner and Phil Jones anyway!

I feel that I made some big mistakes with squad selection and team selection in this tournament. That midfield is one of them and I really should have gone with something more positive. At least someone like Adam Johnson on the left to add some real threat going forward. Perhaps leaving Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott at home was a big mistake but I thought I knew what I was doing!

The back four wasn't too bad but I had to correct the (in my opinion) mistake of playing Phil Jones at centre-back during the tournament. I don't think he is good enough for centre-back at the moment. Certainly not strong enough in the air and also lacking in other areas for my ideal kind of centre-back. I also wonder if I should have been so hasty in dropping some of the older defenders. Someone like Leighton Baines might have been worth calling up at fullback with the experience he could have added to that back four.

Up front, the Tom Cleverley and Wayne Rooney experiment didn't work. If anything, Rooney should have been the deeper player with a striker ahead of him. By making him the 'number 9' figure, I reduced some of the main qualities he can bring, such as his creativity and his ability to make things happen from deeper positions. Cleverley did okay but I think playing with two forwards would have been a stronger option. Welbeck and Sturridge have never done it for me in an England shirt. They are still young so may well improve but at the moment their anticipation, off the ball movement, composure and finishing isn't good enough. Someone like Darren Bent, although a more limited player, would have scored goals at this tournament as his movement, anticipation, finishing and composure etc. is top class. I should have included Darren Bent in the squad rather than hoping for Welbeck or Sturridge to take his place.

Looking at it, the only right decision I made was Joe Hart in goal and that one is pretty obvious, right? :D

This England management job is harder than I thought it would be. Something about it turns you into a vegetable or a 'wally with a brolly'. ;) I made some poor decisions this tournament but hopefully the FA will keep faith in me. I hope Roy Crouchson can put this behind him and not make the same mistakes again.

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I think a quarter-final will have bought you at least another World Cup

Spot on. The FA were disappointed with our poor showing and disappointed to be knocked out to Sweden but they said that they wanted to keep faith with me as England manager.

So Roy Crouchson stays on. I can't imagine what the English public would be making of this if it was real life!

I'll be taking the team to World Cup 2018 in Brazil. I've learnt some lessons and will act on them. Some of the players in my squad will be a little older and a little more experienced. Could that make the difference for Roy Crouchson's England? Let's hope so!

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I'm a bit surprised Shawcross hasn't had good games. Your getting to the stage where there should be some young lads coming through. Have you looked at Sterling for instance? He was a top player in my Euro 2020 campaign. I've always found Cleverley to be better out wide, might be something to thing about. My midfield used to consist of Huddlestone and Rodwell if Wilshere was injured. I'm thinking of starting an international save myself. Although not with England. I might have a go with Belgium. I'm sure by 2018 they should be contenders

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I'm a bit surprised Shawcross hasn't had good games.

Shawcross has generally done very well. He just had a shocker against Sweden.

Your getting to the stage where there should be some young lads coming through. Have you looked at Sterling for instance? He was a top player in my Euro 2020 campaign.

Not quite good enough to make the step up yet. I keep hoping for a wonderkid regen to come through! :)

I've always found Cleverley to be better out wide, might be something to thing about.

That's where I end up playing him in the future as I make a move back to using two strikers. You'll see very soon!

My midfield used to consist of Huddlestone and Rodwell if Wilshere was injured.

Same, although I've tried Phil Jones in there too. But yeah I agree that without Wilshere that is the best partnership in the middle.

I'm thinking of starting an international save myself. Although not with England. I might have a go with Belgium. I'm sure by 2018 they should be contenders

You should go for it. Would be very interesting I'm sure! :)

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WORLD CUP 2018 QUALIFYING GROUP

My group for World Cup 2018 qualifying comprises the following teams:

ENGLAND

Poland

Greece

Albania

Romania

San Marino

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UEFA World Cup 2018 Qualifying, Group 4 - Romania 0 England 1

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A very narrow victory against Romania away from home.

Without Jack Wilshere and Wayne Rooney, we looked like an average team again. I recalled Leighton Baines into the team at left-back and went with Adam Johnson on the left.

Switching back to 4-4-2, I tried the unlikely combination of strikers in Sturridge and Welbeck up front, mainly due to the lack of availability of other forwards.

We did just enough here to get a result. This was a good start to our qualifying campaign as this is likely to be one of our tougher games along with the away trips to Poland and Greece. Three points was most welcome as a starting point.

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UEFA World Cup 2018 Qualifying, Group 4 - England 1 Poland 1

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Poland definitely seem to be one of our bogey teams. We created more and should have been the better side here but didn't get the win.

We scored first through Ryan Shawcross but Poland quickly pulled level. Both Welbeck and Sturridge were extremely poor, once again letting me down at international level. Disappointing.

We need to be much better if we want to be qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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UEFA World Cup 2018 Qualifying, Group 4 - Greece 0 England 2

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A pretty comprehensive victory here against Greece.

I went with Rooney and Welbeck up front and, for once, Welbeck delivered.

This was a very important three points and it was vital for us to bounce back after the disappointment against Poland at Wembley.

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UEFA World Cup 2018 Qualifying, Group 4 - England 1 Albania 1

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We were so dominant in this match, I really can't believe we didn't win.

I do think we're missing the creative influence of Wilshere in this team. Also, Danny Welbeck once again let me down with another poor performance.

This was a typical case of us struggling to create, and to take, chances in a situation where we are expected to take the initiative. Something I really need to work on if I am ever going to be successful with England again.

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International Friendly 2016 - South Korea 2 England 2

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We see out the year with two friendly matches, as usual. A chance for me to experiment.

Once again, I started with both Strurridge and Welbeck, giving them another chance. This time, they rewarded me with a goal each.

Wilshere came back in for his first game since the injury at Euro 2016. Another change was that I decided to try Tom Cleverley out on the right side of the midfield.

We were the stronger side in this game but were just very sloppy in the second-half and let South Korea back into it. We looked better coming forward but on this occasion our back four was poor.

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International Friendly 2016 - England 2 Nigeria 2

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Well this was the South Korea game all over again. We were on top for most of it, took the lead in the first-half, but then haplessly let Nigeria back into the game in the second-half.

Some poor performances, some individual errors, this was a disappointing performance from players who should be using these games as an opportunity to show me that they should be first-choices for England. Perhaps my motivational skills come into question here as I don't think I do a good job of getting the players motivated for international friendly matches. Something to work on, definitely.

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Not great, Sweden not the toughest of teams to go out to, Wales ran you close as well, so much for all these 'inferior' (like England in this case) sides getting more of a chance than they deserve.

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