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 By Ian Darke

Why are England, home of the Premier League, now a laughing stock?

Fifty years of hurt and counting. Where do the England football team go from here?

It is a question we ask every two years as another tournament ends in tears. But this was different, even worse than the World Cup in Brazil. At least there, Roy Hodgson's team lost to two highly ranked teams in Italy and Uruguay before taking an early plane home.

This time they melted down against Iceland, a country with more volcanoes than footballers.

Take nothing away from the underdogs. They carried out their plans to perfection against opponents who simply unraveled at the first sign of trouble.

Here was humiliation on a grand scale, arguably the worst night in England's 144-year football history.

Why is it always like this for the nation which invented the game? How did the country with the richest league in the world become serial flops and, let's be brutally honest, a laughing stock? England have never won an away knockout game at the European Championship, and they haven't reached any tournament semifinal for 20 years.

At the heart of the debate is a mentality among some English fans which says the Premier League is all that matters. The league will kick off again on Aug. 13, and it may even seem as if the Euro debacle never happened as domestic dramas take over.

That mindset is dangerous. English football needs a strong England team. It can't go on like this, stumbling from failure to failure.

The new manager needs to have a bigger talent pool to pick from. Brexit may make it easier to introduce a quota system dictating that every Premier League club has to field, say, five English players.

Time, too, to stop talking about a mid-winter break and actually introducing it. The unrelenting schedule demanded of Tottenham's players in particular left some looking jaded in France. Harry Kane was especially flat and unable to live up to the hype. A two- or three-week January break might make a difference.

Then there is the key question of who should be manager. Roy Hodgson, preferred to fan favourite Harry Redknapp, always looked an uninspiring safe choice. You sense this very decent man was selected more for his ability to fit in with FA culture than a real belief that he could lift a major trophy. Falling on his sword in Nice was the only realistic option after such a calamitous and clueless exit from the Euros.

It was hard to detect a Plan A, let alone a Plan B.

Yet the squad does have talent, albeit the defence and now keeper positions are a real concern.

What is required is a man who knows international tournament football and its subtle sub-plots. That rules out Eddie Howe (too young) and Alan Pardew (only club pedigree). Sam Allardyce, who is smarter than many give him credit for, might be a shrewd gamble given the limited field. He would be sound and pragmatic, and knows how to win when it matters. Just a hunch, but Big Sam might be surprisingly good and would jump at the chance.

But my top choice would be to re-appoint Glenn Hoddle, who produced one of England's most tactically astute displays of the modern era in Italy to qualify for the 1998 World Cup, at which the team were so unlucky to lose to Argentina on penalties. Hoddle lost the job for articulating some controversial religious views, and his man management back then needed some work. But now older and wiser yet still with a forensic mind on players and strategies, he has plenty of appeal.

Besides, the FA are auditioning for a football coach, not the Archbishop of Canterbury. Knowing Glenn a little, whether he would want to give up a successful media career and have all the hassle is open to question. One thing is for certain: High-level action is needed to produce a united effort to prioritise a better England team.

That means the Premier League and FA forgetting differences for a common goal. Otherwise the so-called "most exciting league in the world" will look like a competition for foreign mercenaries that just happens to take place in a land that used to be good at football and is in danger of becoming internationally irrelevant.

Ian Darke, who called games for the network during the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, is ESPN's lead soccer voice in the U.S. Reach him on Twitter @IanDarke.


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