This afternoon I read Ian Wright’s latest article on how England are performing at Euro 2012 in The Sun and seriously wondered if his rose tinted specs that he wears on all things England are so rose-tinted it has effected his vision – and mind.
The only thing he got right in my opinion was when he said that we were ‘okay but not great,’ which I think is probably fair. He thought we would win 2-1 if we were aggressive and came out with a more positive mind-set. This is an England team missing several key personnel against a French team who hadn’t lost a game since Laurent Blanc took over the manager duties of the French national side. The fact the weather was scorching hot also didn’t exactly favour the home side. A 2-1 victory for the English was always possible but it was never the most probable outcome.
He is not happy with Roy’s negative approach and couldn’t see us scoring from anything other than a set piece. The fact that James Milner had a one-on-one and got down the inside right channel many, many times obviously escaped his memory as it didn’t fit in with the narrative that he wanted to portray. The underlying narrative that if Harry Redknapp has been appointed then we’d have attacked and really gone for it – and lost 3-0 – but we’d have done it with good intentions.
He questions whether teams can win tournaments by being solid at the back. I’m not sure how his memory is because I distinctly remember that he used to play for Arsenal – in a team that was known for the scoreline ‘one nil to the Arsenal,’ who were strong at the back and hoped to steal games. If you don’t concede then you can’t lose. The age old adage is you have to score to win games but not letting any in is also a good starting point. We loved Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle side the first time around but I’m struggling to recall the names of any trophies they lifted in that era. Harry Redknapp himself only has one major trophy to his name and in Portsmouth’s six game run to FA Cup glory they scored just seven times and let in one. Yes Pompey and Harry Redknapp won the FA Cup but being miserly at the back.
He says that he ‘doesn’t think it can get much worse,’ and you look at the article and think ‘what?’ It is a very encouraging start. The team looked solid and it looked together. They worked hard for each other and stifled a better team. That is good enough for most pundits and indeed most of the media saw it as such but The Sun who thought Harry Redknapp was hosed and are leading the attack on Roy Hodgson already think differently.
International football is a results-based industry. So far so good for Roy Hodgson. We shall see how it works out but there is a reason optimism is down and it has very little to do with the manager. The talent is either getting on a bit, is injured, is suspended or very young and raw. Technically English footballers are so far below the likes of their European counterparts it is laughable. Until that changes then England will never be able to constantly match some of the other nations in an open game of free-flowing football and that is why we need to be more tactically astute. This is Roy Hodson’s forte and so far he hasn’t shown that he is lacking at an international level.
So whilst Ian Wright is foaming at the mouth I most certainly am not. I don’t expect England to entertain. England haven’t got the players to wow us at the moment so you need to find other ways to progress and that it what it looks like Roy is providing.
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