Sunday, June 25, 2017

Johnson: Hodgson tension in the past

Glen Johnson has talked up his relationship with England manager Roy Hodgson, despite their difficulties together at Liverpool.

Johnson, 27, struggled for form and fitness during Hodgson’s ill-fated, seven-month spell in charge at Anfield, drawing public criticism from his manager.

But the former West Ham, Chelsea and Portsmouth man has been Hodgson’s first choice at right-back for the national team.

And Johnson has claimed there was no lingering tension upon his call up to the England squad for Euro 2012.

“Yes, I spoke to Roy. We had a general chat, the same sort of chat he had with everyone else. There was never any problems,” he told the Daily Mirror.

“I did not feel I had to prove anything, no. Whatever happened at Liverpool happened. Roy picked me for his first squad so I didn’t have to prove anything.

“I have always been confident in how I defend. Obviously a few critics have not been, but I am not surprised by the way I have defended at all.”

Johnson praised Hodgson’s emphasis on defensive organisation, lauding England’s improved work-rate and discipline.

“It has benefited the whole team,” he said.

“Everyone is willing to work that touch harder. At this level it is the inches that make the difference.

“Even people like (Danny) Welbeck, players are tackling from the front. We are defending from high up and that is a good way to send the team out.”

While many observers tipped England to struggle at the tournament, they have defied expectations to win their group, and set up a quarter-final with Italy on Sunday.

Johnson acknowledged the gloomy predictions going into Euro 2012, but said the squad did not share the media and supporters’ doubts.

“We’ve always been confident, it was the fans that weren’t confident,” he said.

“We’ve always been close with each other and had belief in each other’s ability. The first objective was to get out of the group, which we’ve done.

“Now, in the knockout stage, it’s a one-off game and anything can happen. As long as you’re still in the tournament you’ve got a chance of winning it.”

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