England boss Roy Hodgson cannot understand the criticism of his team’s 0-0 draw with Ukraine last night in World Cup qualifying.
The visitors may have only really needed a draw, but the performance was less than impressive in Kiev.
In yesterday’s article I described the Ukraine as dangerous opponents, but they simply did not play to the best of their ability and produced a tepid performance.
There were flashes of good work from the home side. Unfortunately just like the visitors they did not have any cutting edge.
The England defence were solid, with Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill strong at the heart of the Three Lions backline. Ashley Cole also played his part at full-back, but got forward a lot less than usual. The one concern at the back was Kyle Walker’s nervous display at right-back.
While the defence did their job well, the players further forward completely lacked any imagination and creativity. The lack of creativity against a team who performed as averagely as Ukraine did last night is really concerning.
If England came up against even an average team at the World Cup and produced a similar sort of display then it would be unlikely that Roy Hodgson’s side would win many games. England’s team lacked a spark of excitement and any sort of inspiration.
What was even more concerning from an England point of view was the fact that the team’s passing was so poor. The midfield trio of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere are usually superb passers of the ball for their club sides, but seem to forget that they are in white shirts when playing for England.
The trio are top-class players, but in last night’s game they just did not perform to the best of their ability and seemed unable to keep hold of the ball.
England are now flat track bullies. The Three Lions make easy work of the smaller nations, but seem to lack confidence against even the middle-sized nations, which is not good enough for England. The Three Lions may not be the best team in the world, but you would at least expect them to aim for a victory against the likes of Ukraine.
Here is an snippet of what Hodgson said after the game: “If the expectations upon us are going to get so great that even when we come to places like the Ukraine we’re going to be expected to roll all over them, then it’s going to be very difficult for us in future to ever get a good result.
Sorry Roy, but expectations of the national team are not really that high back in England. Years of disappointment and underperformance have led England fans to lower their expectation levels to realistic standards in recent years.
However, England fans expect their team to at least try and attack the opposition. Last night’s attacking play was woeful. I felt really sorry for lone striker Rickie Lambert because he was so isolated at times.
Hodgson cannot truly believe that last night’s display was good enough for the England team? If he does then he needs to find a new profession. The result was not the worst in the world, but England should not be going out to get a draw against the Ukraine.
Against better opposition England would have been on the end of a right hammering last night and I do not see how Hodgson does not understand that.
England were missing a host of players for last night’s clash, but the question is would Roy Hodgson have gone out to win the match even with a fully-fit squad. The selection of James Milner on the wing in place of the suspended Danny Welbeck summed up Hodgson’s fear of actually attacking opposition teams.
Hodgson talked about fear playing a part in the player’s performance. These are players that play in front of thousands of people every week. Some of these players have played in Champions League finals.
However, the ones that have not did not need their manager coming out with such negative statements about fear. The former-Liverpool boss needs to start talking his players up, not down.
For years England were seen as underachievers and England fans had massive expectations of their team. However, all of a sudden England are being talked about as if they are a small nation with no players of pedigree.
The worst thing of all is that the main culprit of this is Hodgson himself. His constant negative comments are starting to filter through to the players and it seems that it is affecting their performances.
He cannot blame the media for negative press when he puts out such negative messages. Nor can he blame the media for having a go at him for last night’s performance, because they have every right.
A win in Ukraine last night would have had England all but at the World Cup, if only Roy Hodgson could have been slightly more positive with his tactics. As we stand England still lead the group and their destiny is in their own hands.
Home wins against Montenegro and Poland will ensure qualification. If qualification is secured then England’s performances will have to be far better than the dour one last night, or Hodgson and his team will be heading home from Brazil on a very early flight.
Was England’s performance in the Ukraine good enough?