England won't succeed under indecisive Hodgson, says Neil Humphreys
Manager's indecision and lack of vision will ruin this talented Three Lions outfit
(Eric Dier 73)
(Vasili Berezutski 90+2)
With a fraction of the talent and fewer resources, Chris Coleman has humiliated Roy Hodgson.
They meet on Friday morning (Singapore time), but the Wales manager has already struck the first psychological blow from afar.
He adhered to the radical concept of playing his most accomplished players in their natural positions.
The exasperating Hodgson continues to pen team-sheets like a blindfolded pub regular hoping to hit double top on a dartboard.
Strip away the insufferable hullabaloo that follows the England bandwagon whenever the Three Lions roll into town and the unavoidable reality remains.
England will win nothing with Hodgson at the helm or get anywhere close to fulfilling their potential.
Russia's late equaliser in the Group B opener allows England to again wallow in the self-pity that consumes them at most tournaments.
Hodgson rambled on about bitter pills being tough to swallow, but he got what he deserved against a limited Russian side.
His tireless players, on the other hand, have cause to feel a little hard done by.
After a two-year qualification campaign, which achieved a safe passage with three matches to spare, the England manager chose the crucial opening game to experiment.
It's no coincidence that Euro 2016 magazines and supplements, often prepared weeks in advance to meet printing demands, had little idea of Hodgson's starting line-up. The uncertainty remained until an hour before kick-off.
For weeks now, the 68-year-old's erratic selections and formations in friendlies revealed a man behaving like a sugar-crazed toddler suddenly handed the keys to the candy store and isn't sure which sweetie to gorge on first.
Realising every cynic's worst fears, Hodgson picked the opener to field a largely untested set of players, in a collective sense, in an unfamiliar line-up with a number inexplicably used out of position.
That he almost got away with it said more about Russia's creaking midfield and defence, led by Vasili Berezutski, who will be 34 next week and still leapt highest in the box to snatch a point.
The simplistic analysis persists that the youngest team in the tournament was a testament to Hodgson's newfound boldness, but it's really quite the opposite.
Players were frustratingly pulled from side to side with the uncomfortable jerkiness of a tug-of-war team, all to incorporate their skipper.
Wayne Rooney, popping up everywhere from centre-back to centre-forward and stopping at each station along the way, delivered a typically bullish display so often favoured in the British media, ticking every heart-on-sleeve cliche.
Rooney did indeed impress and, yet, Hodgson opted to remove his most experienced Lion at a time when cooler, older heads needed to prevail.
More importantly, Rooney's accomplished showing required too many sacrificial lambs elsewhere.
Dele Alli was shunted wide, denying England's most naturally gifted No. 10 a chance to get anywhere near his best position.
Adam Lallana's jittery approach in front of goal, which can resemble a octopus let loose with a machine gun, saw a couple of chances spurned, and yet he was often England's most advanced attacker.
Harry Kane, the Three Lions' only complete striker, took corners.
One of the most feared marksmen in Europe took corners.
The Tottenham forward now finds himself unfairly chastised for being off his game, but he was never granted the opportunity to be on it.
As Kyle Walker aptly demonstrated, the Russians were susceptible to pace, but Jamie Vardy never left the bench.
He was never going to. Long-suffering followers of Hodgson's travails knew it. Vardy knew it and even the Russians probably had a shrewd idea.
Leicester City's electrifying title-winner represented too much of a risk. The hare was up against the tactical tortoise.
After three tournaments, Hodgson still can't help himself.
England's obvious standout performer excelled for the simplest of reasons. Of all the six forward players engaged in Hodgson's shape-shifting sorcery, Eric Dier was really the only one in his recognised position.
Tottenham's young terrier patrolled England's shaky defence and remained a fixed point for the front five. He will now start against Wales.
Rooney is also an immovable object, which leaves Hodgson with headaches of his own creation.
Raheem Sterling remains a pair of runaway legs in search of an end product.
Kane looks lost and lonely; Lallana is neither a winger nor a striker; and Alli cannot dictate proceedings from the touchline.
In his second Group B game, Hodgson must tinker again. He's still experimenting, still unsure of his best 11 or even their positions.
A campaign two years and two Euro 2016 games in the making is still lacking in focus and direction. It's the common tale of tournaments past.
But on this occasion, the problem is no longer the players.
It's the muddled man in the dugout.
Dier: We must look ahead to next game
England's late heartbreak against Russia was not due to inexperience, goalscorer Eric Dier said.
England were denied victory in their Euro 2016 opener against Russia in Marseille by a stoppage-time equaliser.
Roy Hodgson's young side dominated for long periods at the Stade Velodrome, and looked set to be on the way towards three points when Tottenham midfielder Dier crashed a free-kick into the top corner after 73 minutes.
However, with just seconds of three minutes of added time remaining, Russia captain Vasili Berezutski sent a looping header over Joe Hart.
0: Eric Dier (above) has not attempted a free-kick in his 65 Premier league games. He is now the eighth Spurs player to score for England at a major tournament, more than any other club.
England must now regroup ahead of their Group B showdown in Lens with Wales, who earlier in the day had beaten Slovakia.
"We are very disappointed, we played well in the game, and then to give away the goal at the end..." Dier said on ITV1.
"It is not inexperience, we just did not see it out in the right way.
"There are lots of positives from the game, the performance level was extremely high, we did everything right, we controlled the game, had it all but just could not control it at the end.
"We did not lose, so we pick ourselves up and go again, and now look forwards to another big game."
Hart also preferred to look at what the team did well rather than coming up short in the closing stages.
"It is not tough to take positives, because we played well.
"We will build on it and get better, win more games.
"There are a lot of positives, and that is what we are going to have to draw on."
While Hodgson accepted to concede a goal at such a late stage almost felt like a defeat, there was no reason to tear up the blueprint for what was largely a promising display.
The England manager said: "When you have dominated the game as much as we did and then concede a goal two minutes into injury time, of course it feels much more like a defeat.
"There are a lot of good things in our performance tonight.
"It was a moment of unbelievable quality from their side, and I don't think that came from any signs of us showing mismanagement personally."
Hodgson recalled Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana, while captain Wayne Rooney was deployed in a deeper midfield role.
"There were a lot of things which happened out there that gave me satisfaction," the England manager added.
"I thought we looked very good at times during the game, and personally I thought we deserved to win the game."
- PA Sport.
I think we played well but we didn’t take our chances. We looked solid for 90 minutes.
— England captain Wayne Rooney
We will build on it and get better, win more games.
— England’s Joe Hart
I can’t help thinking we should all be celebrating victory but we got a kick in the teeth at the end which has made the mood after not great.
— England defender Gary Cahill