Steve Holland admits England have still got a lot of rebuilding to do after their Euro 2016 disaster.
Three Lions No2 Holland says last summer’s shocking failure in France highlighted a lack of leaders in the squad — and that is their first task in trying to get players to take more responsibility.
Boss Gareth Southgate’s players have been away on a team-bonding boot-camp weekend with the Royal Marines, but assistant Holland says it is still a long way back from that loss to tiny Iceland in the last-16 almost a year ago.
Holland said: “I’m trying to relate that back into football.
“You go one up [Wayne Rooney’s fourth-minute penalty] and everything looks fine and everybody’s playing then suddenly: ‘bang! bang!’ it is 1-2 [after 18 minutes].
“Then you are looking on the pitch — maybe you were in the stadium or sitting, like me, on holiday watching it — at the players thinking ‘Bloody hell, they have gone. Where are the leaders, where is the leadership?’
“Secondly, this is a pressure moment — who is stepping to the fore? It looked to me like there was nobody.
“Does what we did at the weekend (with the Marines) solve that? Not in one hit, no.
“But having identified it, it is part of a process that hopefully in the short term but also in the long term will create a different mindset within the group that can help us.
“It is as simple as that.”
Holland joined Southgate’s staff on a full-time basis this summer after sharing the role while also serving as Antonio Conte’s No2 at Chelsea.
That created some tension, with other clubs complaining that it was unfair for a member of Chelsea staff getting the inside track on their players’ condition while on England duty.
Holland added: “I totally understand the question. I think working with the Under-21s, which I did up until Christmas and Chelsea is not a big drama.
“When you are working with the senior team, it is different.
“The job that was offered to me wasn’t a split job and I understand totally why that was. It was a full-time job – it was, ‘Come full-time or don’t come’ and I understand totally why that is. And I think that is correct.
“I would consider myself to have personal integrity so therefore I slept well throughout. I wouldn’t behave in a certain way, end of story. But I could also see — by someone who thought different — that it could, in certain situations, create issues.
“I had respect for that.”
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