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Euro 2012: England v Italy - A 0-0 hammering that ended as it always does

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Phil McNulty | 07:20 UK time, Monday, 25 June 2012

Euro 2012: Kiev

The clock in Kiev had ticked well beyond midnight when Alessandro Diamanti stepped forward to send England back in time and Italy into the last four of Euro 2012.

England’s story had a familiar ending as another penalty shoot-out sent them home heartbroken from a major tournament – but this time there must be no hard luck stories.

It is a road England have travelled before and the final destination has always been misery. It started in Turin in 1990 before moving on to Wembley in 1996, St. Etienne in 1998 then Lisbon in 2004 and Gelsenkirchen two years later.

Steven Gerrard and Ashley Young

Captain Steven Gerrard consoles Ashley Young. Photo: Getty

The conclusion may have been the same as manager Roy Hodgson gathered England’s desolate squad near the centre circle in rapidly emptying Olympic Stadium. The reality, however, was different.
In the past England have understandably felt a sense of injustice, a belief that an exit on penalties was scant reward for their efforts. Here in Kiev, a gripping quarter-final got the winners it fully deserved.

The statistics alone suggest England were thrashed 0-0 by vastly superior Italy and they do not deceive or paint an illusion. Italy had 68 per cent possession, 31 shots against England’s eight and eighteen on target to England’s four. The pass count was 833 to 364.

So as England’s players pulled into their Krakow hotel in the early hours of Monday morning, they can take satisfaction from their efforts in Poland and Ukraine but cannot have a single complaint about the manner of their departure.

England landed at their correct level by losing at the quarter-final stage. Are they one of the top four sides in Europe? Absolutely not. Are they one of the top eight? Probably. To borrow a phrase from Wimbledon, they achieved what their seeding said they would.

In Kiev, however, they found that the iron tactical discipline, togetherness and resilience injected by Hodgson in his brief time in charge could only take them so far. England were tortured by the superior technique shown by Italy and one man in particular – the glorious, peerless Andrea Pirlo.

England’s exhausted midfield pair of captain Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker could not lay a glove on this elegant operator and Wayne Rooney was not able to track back and exert his influence on Pirlo.

The result was that England, barring a 20-minute first half spell in which they played their best football of the tournament, were pulled to pieces and only survived until penalties via a combination of good fortune, brave defending and poor Italian finishing.

Pirlo’s penalty in the shoot-out, chipped audaciously and gently over goalkeeper Joe Hart, sat so easily alongside the rest of his performance. Deft, intuitive and quite simply on a different plane to anything else.

It was a long, harrowing night for England and in these extreme circumstances it was to their credit that they hung in and drew the match despite being outclassed.

England would have gladly taken victory on penalties, or any other way for that matter, but there would have been an element of grand larceny about it, so much better were their opponents.

Italy’s win brought an abrupt end to the rising optimism after England topped the group. Now Hodgson must sift through the campaign and plot for the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup. While the flight back to England will carry a liberal helping of despair, there is still plenty for Hodgson to be happy about after only being appointed in May.

It is clear England’s players have bought into his methods and there was a unity of purpose about the squad that was conspicuous by its absence in South Africa in 2010. In that World Cup campaign an unhappy squad trudged from one abject display to another, suggesting there was a lot more they could offer had they actually been bothered.

This England may have had its limitations but there is no shame in their demise. They left nothing behind. What you saw was what Hodgson has got – an honest group short of sparkle when it mattered on Sunday.

It is a quality that has bought back a measure of respect from the nation and there should be no heavy criticism of players or manager.

Gerrard has been an outstanding leader while John Terry – irrespective of how his personality and selection divided opinion – fully justified his inclusion. Chelsea’s captain was magnificent in his defiance as Italy swarmed over England.

Goalkeeper Hart has cemented his reputation as one of the world’s best goalkeepers, while defender Joleon Lescott has looked an England player at last.

There were also disappointments. Manchester United’s Ashley Young had a poor Euro 2012 rounded off with a missed penalty, while young Danny Welbeck flickered fleetingly. He is rich in promise and has a very bright England future.

Perhaps the most frustrating sight of all in Kiev was Wayne Rooney fighting in vain to make his mark on a major tournament. He may have scored England’s winner against Ukraine but the combination of a two-match ban and the very obvious effects of a lengthy break from football means Euro 2012 was another unfulfilling experience.

Rooney looked short of match sharpness and physical fitness against Italy, rather like a car trying to start on a flat battery as he struggled to spark himself into life, although such are his natural gifts that no-one should blame Hodgson for picking him.

What cannot be denied, or indeed ignored, was the chasm in class between the sides. England had no-one to match Pirlo’s ability to dictate, to treat the ball as his closest friend.

England have been guilty of squandering possession in recent times but this was different. They did not have possession as they were manoeuvred about by master manipulator Pirlo in such a manner that Italy would never have forgiven themselves had they not gone forward to meet Germany in Warsaw on Friday.

Hodgson will arrive back home with his credibility intact. Some may even feel England over-achieved given the short notice the manager had to prepare this campaign. In some respects, barring a catastrophe, Hodgson had a free hit at Euro 2012 and has made a good job of it.

He has made organisation his first point of call, understandable in the circumstances, but Hodgson may need to tinker with his formula with Euro 2012 a thing of the past. Can a rigid 4-4-2 be transformed into something more progressive for the World Cup campaign?

Manchester United's Paul Scholes cannot turn back time to play the role of England’s Pirlo, so midfield invention may lean heavily on how quickly Arsenal’s brilliant youngster Jack Wilshere regains full fitness - while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another pressing claims for more regular starts.

England will surely have more than an attritional approach when facing the likes of Poland, Ukraine and Moldova en route, they hope, to Brazil in 2014.

This game was a brutal illustration of where England are. They can come home proud of their efforts but also knowing they were eliminated by a better side.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Totally agree - Young was rubbish all tournament and Rooney never once looked like he was fit. Don't know why he started. Should've brought him on as an impact player.

  • Comment number 2.

    England need a new Paul Scholes. All successful teams have a player who just sits in the middle of the park and dictates play. Just look at Xavi for Spain, Schweinsteiger for Germany, Pirlo for Italy.

    I can't believe I'm the only one who isn't surprised at Rooney's lack of impact and performance for England. He's hardy ever played well for England, and certainly not in recent years. In my opinion he is NOT world class. His first touch is atrocious for a supposed world class player. He's also so slow. The way the analysts and commentators were talking you'd swear he was coming back from a long term injury, not just missing two matches!!! Welbeck played well last night, and was fresher than Rooney. It should have been Rooney off for Carroll and not Welbeck.

    In conclusion though, the best side won. Italy deserved to win. They were far superior in every department.

  • Comment number 3.

    "This game was a brutal illustration of where England are."


    No where.

  • Comment number 4.

    For years I have been hearing how Gerrard Terry and Rooney are football gods, now here is a an article that talks about a limited team. Every pundit and his cat outside of England predicted a draw and England to go out on Penalties. How long before you lot turn on Roy ?

  • Comment number 5.

    For twenty minutes England looked as if they were going to rip Italy apart.

    Once the Italy mifdield got hold of the game however it was over.

    Yes, Pirlo was good, but it was the rest of the midfield that allowed him to play that way, whilst Young and Milner didn't provide the strength needed to bring Gerrard into the game.

    Well done to the lads however - a decent campaign that ended fair and square.

  • Comment number 6.

    Now reality has struck home.

    Rooney was useless as usual but at least didnt get sent off. Not that we would have noticed. There would just have been one less person on the pitch passing the ball to a blue shirt.
    Young was abysmal up until this game. Now he is worse than that.
    Milner is like a hamster in a wheel. Lots of endeavour but nothing to show for it.
    Practicing penalties? Try rudimentary passing.

    Hodgson's tactics were ridiculously incompetent as they were predictable. 442 allowed us to be overrun in midfield and to allow Pirlo the freedom of the park after Hodgson identified him as the potent threat is naive at best. The second half as well as extra time illustrated that there was no plan B. A rigid and frankly ineffectual formation was never in any danger of being changed. This is typical Hodgson. This is why he has failed at big clubs. This is why we will struggle to even qualify for the 2014 world cup.

    God help us if we actually get there. No wonder expectations were low. We all knew Hodgson's inadequacies and England's ineptitude are the stamp of a man who thinks he knows what he's doing and has fooled the FA into believing exactly that. The embarrassing display against Italy illustrates that the England manager really hasn't got a clue.

    Hodgson's was the wrong appointment. I said it when he was appointed Liverpool manager and he failed miserably. I said it when he was appointed England manager (deja vu).
    So please: No accusations of me jumping on any bandwagon.

  • Comment number 7.

    Has anyone noticed that Joe Hart is just Peter Mellor having intelligently time-travelled to an era without Banks, Stepney, Clemence, Bonetti, Shilton, Corrigan or Harvey. Quite what those hands make of all this flapping and punching, I don't know.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well done England.

    Did better than I expected overall, and hopefully we can now start building for the future a little and then with any luck the football will improve a little.

    Congratulations Italy and good luck in the next game.

  • Comment number 9.

    welcome home Theo and Alex

    the rest of the squad can now dump all this camaraderie nonsense, togetherness etc etc and return to kicking lumps out of each other and engage in other nasty goings on in the coming season in the PL.

  • Comment number 10.

    @ Kíllìnghölmê_Clᥠ(aka Charlie Cheesecake)

    I knew it wouldn't be long. Typical armchair England manager. I love how insightful comments like these are. Tell me, why aren't you managing a professional football side?

    Oh right, you haven't got a clue what you're talking about.

  • Comment number 11.

    The gulf in class can probably be best summed up by two penalties. Pirlo's classy chip compared to Young's hit and hope. A dogs of war England essentially saved from embarrassment by the fact Italy could not put their chances away. Without wanting to single too many players out Milner and Parker sum up English football at the moment. Two solid grafting players but lack the subtlety and guile needed at international level. If i'm brutally honest the front four were passengers yesterday and you cannot carry players in a quarter final. A couple of other things. Hart while he is a good keeper must stop parrying every long shot out into the centre of the box. He has done it time and time again this competition and soon someone will grab a goal from it. (Balotelli nearly did). Another thing is I feel sorry for Hodgson for a lose lose situation regarding Rooney. Last night he kept him on even though he was awful and will get some stick for it. But could you imagine the outcry from certain parts of the country if he had taken him off and Italy had scored. However, having said that he needs to show guts to drop players like Rooney. Far too long England have persisted with big names not doing anything. Finally, Wilshere is without doubt a good player, he's not world class not matter what people say. But can we please have a sense of realism as he has not played for a year in a crucial stage of development as a player. How many times have we seen a player come back from a long spell out and be a shadow of their former selves. Even if he does come back and is plays well great but lets not overhype him or any of these other young players. However, we almost certainly will.

  • Comment number 12.

    England started to look better in attack but then they reintroduced Rooney and England were back to their usual self. Also, time to tell Gerrard he is not made of the right stuff.

    Out with the old, in with the new.

  • Comment number 13.

    biggest mistake? Wayne Rooney. did nothing in the two games he played in apart from scoring a header that my gran couldve put away. Picked on club merit, useless as an England player. Not a world class striker until you can do it on the international stage is what they say isnt it??

  • Comment number 14.

    Phil, A lot of what you have said makes sense - we are short on quality and Pirlo was magnificent. This side gave everything and on this occasion were outclassed. You talk about the result being a ‘fair’ one. What about all the times we’ve outclassed our opponents and not got the result. It’s not about ‘fair’ in tournament football – it’s about getting the result. And, unfortunately, this time we didn’t get the result either.

    That said there were lots of positives. Well done to Roy and the boys.

    Come On England!!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Well done England. Disappointing that we didn't get through. Wasn't through lack of trying though.

    I still love you.

  • Comment number 16.

    Outclassed and out skilled in yet another major tournament. These are multi-millionaire sportsmen who supposedly play in the best league in the world so why are we so far behind the comparable countries at international level?
    We've asked the question thousands of times. For me the prime reason is simple. Come August no one will care about England and we'll go back to total club focus unless and until we get to Brazil in 2014. We won't challenge for top honours until football as a sport starts taking the national team seriously. I'm not holding my breath.

  • Comment number 17.

    All very well looking for a different formation, but without the quality in the squad it doesn't matter what formation you pick - Young was disappointing all tournament, but when you consider that his replacement on the left would be Downing, and other players were also under par

    It is inexplicable how players who seem to be able to pass the ball at their clubs suddenly become so incomptent when they put on an England shirt - you can't even blame it on unreasonable expectations this time either..

  • Comment number 18.

    If this defensive, negative, unimaginative, skill-less style of football is going to be the norm for the next 2 years then Wembley will be half-full by the time the last World Cup qualifiers are played. Fans will not accept this type of rubbish from Hodgson. He's been in charge for 6 games and it's been the same for every game - England camped back deep in their own half and playing the type of football that drives people away. How many times did England give the ball away last night? It was happening over and over again. If we continue to play like this negative rubbish then we can forget about qualifying for the World Cup in 2014.

  • Comment number 19.

    Rooney is and will remain the most overrated player to ever wear the England shirt. He offers nothing but possession to the opposition. Wellbeck is lightweight, very ordinary. Carroll offers more than Wellbeck but too often it's usual kick it to his head. People forget Carroll has a fine left foot on him.

    Full credit to defence and Joe Hart though, they kept a dominant team from scoring for 120 minutes. It's a shame the midfield can't do anything with it when they receive it. People love Gerrard, will never know why, overrated like Rooney. When Wilshere is back, that should spell the end of Gerrard's national team career, not like he would care.

    The less we say about Ashley Young the better, if he isn't diving, he isn't doing anything of use.

  • Comment number 20.

    The only players to come out of the tournament with credit were Gerrard, Lescott, Terry, Cole, Hart and Johnson (best game he has played in an England shirt last night!).

    I have absolutely no idea what the Utd trio were doing last night - personally I thought they were abysmal but Young in particular - how was he even in the team? Absolutely terrible.

    As we have known for a long time, England have no good wingers. Milner for all his industrialism is useless at beating a man or putting a good cross in. Words actually fail me for young. His missed spot kick epitomised his tournament.

    We got taught a masterclass by Pirlo and Co in actually how to play football and while I am disappointed, quite clearly the best team won on the night. I would just have preferred it to be before penalties.

  • Comment number 21.

    @6 Give Hodgson a break! He has been manager for just over a month and not lost in normal time for the first 6 games he has managed!
    I have to agree with the Rooney comments, he is not "World Class", another tournament where he hasnt delivered..
    Italy deserved their win, far superior, but credit to England for their determination. Great experience for some of the younger players, a lot of work to do though..

    Wouldnt it be nice if some of the usual England haters ( you know who you are) didnt pollute this blog with their usual inane, boring and repetitive comments..doubtful though.

  • Comment number 22.

    @ the realist....

    Gerrard has been the outstanding English player of the tournament. cant expect him to carry an entire under performing England team for 90 mins every game. Gerrard has it all, a diamond amongst a team that stinks of mediocrity.... id like to see you do better. clown

  • Comment number 23.

    England out... and for footballing reasons proper! Good riddance.

  • Comment number 24.

    football - the relationship between the foot and the ball. In England's case the relationship has to go down as 'estranged'. English players just don't seem to be comfortable on the ball, be in control of the ball, able to complete a pass. Serious overhaul of grassroots training necessary. We need more footballers.

  • Comment number 25.

    Dear oh dear.
    Opinions. That's what this blog thing is all about. Unless of course my opinion doesnt fit in with yours. Then apparently, I'm not allowed one.

  • Comment number 26.

    You can put whatever spin you like on England's weak and poor performance at Euro 2012. Deep down I know the team is way behind on the skill levels of our European neighbours.

    World Cup 2014 will bring additional and strong competition from the South American countries. What England are good at is having an unrealistic expectation of winning a tournament.

  • Comment number 27.

    Totally agree that Hodgson got the most out a poor England team.

    Pirlo was pure quality and until England start picking central midfielders that can pass to his team mates and not just charge around for 90 minutes we'll get nowhere. Luckily Jack Wilshere might be fit soon and hopefully Tom Cleverly will develop into a top quality player so there is hope.

    Dogeared, Glad to see yet again its someone else's fault that Gerrard failed to influence against a big game for England.

  • Comment number 28.

    Lets remember that all of BBC's punditry brain trust picked England to win this one. Loyalty is great, but there's egg on your face as sports journalists for ignoring such a glaring gap in quality and making such unrealistic predictions. At least by the end came the acknowledgement of the vase gap in class. Stragegically, Hodgson got it right with the very limited timber at his disposal. England build a good wall and, right now, that's kind of it. If the team can get a very crisp fast break together, that's probably still the way forward. I just can't see England ever competing in the posession, ball movement game with the Italys and Spains and Germanies of the world. The skill isn't there. Watch as the much over praised Gerrard got easily run off the ball time and time again. I had to laugh as Carroll and Rooney tried to dribble on the Italian defense. Not your strong suit guys. I think England should go on the assumption that four to five consecutive passes is the most they can pull off, so they'd better get a shot in by then. Oh, and work on penalties.

  • Comment number 29.

    "These are multi-millionaire sportsmen who supposedly play in the best league in the world so why are we so far behind the comparable countries at international level?"

    The reason being all the top clubs are full of foreign players. It's not the english players that make the league so good, it's the foreigners.

    You look at the top sides in europe like barca, madrid, milan etc. and most of the main squad are from that country. You look at the top teams in england, and the main players to these teams are foreigners.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think you're a bit over generous to the players here. Granted we were outclassed and we dont have the technical ability of players like Pirlo. But at the same time it was obvious to all that the Italians wanted it more than we did. You could see it in their energy, enterprise and on their faces. We in comparison loooked uninspired, lethargic, devoid of any creative play and worst of all we kept giving the ball away. Surely that's the first thing Roy should be drumming into the players -KEEP THE BALL LADS!!! It's a disgrace that these players who are paid millions could not even string more than 3 or 4 passes together. People are saying we showed spirit and heart, but the Italians showed more in every aspect of the game.

  • Comment number 31.

    Cheesecake: nö. 6

    Very good post. Could I just add that all England managers have made the mistake of automatically selecting players based on what they are capable of on their day, rather than form. We were never going to win anything as long as players

  • Comment number 32.

    Good blog.Sums it up well.
    For this tournament,bearing in mind that Rooney was not available,I would have taken Peter Crouch.
    He is much maligned but good in the box.
    Carroll looked lost and you never know Crouch may have sneaked one and put England through.
    It still doesn't get away from the fact that Italy were by far the better side.

  • Comment number 33.

    We need to start boring our opponents to submission - like Spain do. Never thought I'd say this but - c'mon Germany all the way.

  • Comment number 34.

    OK, off we go.

    After a heady two weeks where Roy and the boys were 'a breath of fresh air', unified, passionate, handling the media well (always important, that), and with a great chance of going all the way, now it's:

    - woefully exposed against the first decent team we played, tactically inept, Hodgson clueless, etc. etc.

    Perhaps it's time for a foreign manager? Y'know, someone who has tactical nous. Until they lose, that is, then it'll be back to passion, understanding the english game, give it to 'Arry etc.

  • Comment number 35.

    It comes as no surprise to anyone that England were defeated, well except to certain members of the press looking at some rags this morning. "England did themselves proud." Really? "Running on empty" I suppose a reference to the fact we are the only country whose domestic season has just finished, oh but that is'nt so. Excuses over personal issues, lack of togetherness, please I ask you, people earning over 50k a week who just did not do their job pure and simple. Are England top, full agreement there but are they top 8? No absolutely not on what I have seen. This is the worst England squad for 40 years with only two players that can be considered world class, Hart and Terry. Young and Milner were weak and at best very average all season, Walcott and Chamberlain tied to the bench wondering how bad it has to be before they get on. Rooney has never performed for England and is not world class.

    In conclusion, England set themselves a low performance target and failed to achieve it and with Hodgson we just looked like West Brom.

  • Comment number 36.

    Have to disagree with your assessment on Hart Phil - from the very first minute last night he looked nervous, and there were too many times during the tournament that he had to rely on his defenders to bail him out. Sure, you could hear him command the area during free kicks and corners but as I said, there were moments he was found wanting. Good goalkeeper, yes - one of the greats, no, not yet.
    Watching the tournament (especially the last couple of games), it strikes me that Hodgson is going to have his "favourites" in the team, who he is never going to either drop or substitute. Young should have been dropped for either AO-C or Walcott, regardless of the left not being their natural side (or had them swap with Milner on the right). Wellbeck was unfortunate to be substituted against the Ukraine and Italy - if Rooney was off the pace, why not have subbed him with Carroll (or Defoe, who would have frightened teams with his pace and his knack for getting into scoring opportunities).
    It'll be interesting to see Hodgson's first selection for the WC qualifiers after having a couple of more months in the role...

  • Comment number 37.

    4-4-2 under Sven Erikson did not work in the world cup teams dominated possession againt England. Exactly the same under Capello. Exactly the same under Hodgson. Even fergie at Man U has realised in Europe to have control of the game you need to control the midfield. We are constantly light weight, with two forwards stuck at the front. The 4 in the middle of the park get out run by the 5. You can't get close to Pirolo even if the other team constantly have a spare man. Italy played with a diamond narrow with a spare man. 4-3-3 always equates to 5 in the middle when defending. Even Belgium in the friendlies at Wembley had more possession. The less possession you have the more tired you get. A game every 3/4 days constantly chasing will drain even the fittest premier league stars. It was the tactics more than Pirolo that destroyed England.

  • Comment number 38.

    Lucky we went out at this stage as we would have been thumped by the Germans! Better to go out to Italy rather than Germany.

  • Comment number 39.

    It's funny how everyone waxes lyrical about Pirlo and when we had a player of his calibre in Scholes we put him out on the left wing (or at least Sven did)!

  • Comment number 40.

    I would have taken off Rooney, Gerrard and Young instead of Wellbeck, Parker and Milner.

    Rooney should have taken Pirlo out of the game but got bored of it. Gerrard was more exhausted than Parker, and Young was underperforming.

  • Comment number 41.

    firstly i would like to say that nobody here has any right to say none of these players are proud to represent their country, i personally think that is one thing we can take home from this tournament a sense of fight and willingness to perform for the shirt.
    Admittedly some flaws were exposed in our ability to retain possession but bar gerrard, terry and cole who i thought where superb this is a relatively young and inexperienced team. I do not think this is a time to despair at all.
    We manouvered our group with relative ease before going out to a superior side at the moment, the top 4 teams in europe are in the semis. This is the way things go in sport. I personally am proud of the players who went to the euros, and roy hodgson has proved that he is an international manager, the future isnt yet bright but its in way bleak.

  • Comment number 42.

    ENGLANDS Defence is poor at the top level
    goalkeeper is good but not great to much
    ashley young was asked to do to much for the player he is he cant defend and attack
    rooney aint a striker at this level lacks hight and pace
    442 is ment to have a big man upfront
    these problems can be sorted
    but they wont

  • Comment number 43.

    Watching the sainted Roy last night, all that was missing was an umbrella

  • Comment number 44.

    England did as well as anyone could have hoped for with a limited squad. I'm not sure what Hodgson was trying to do in assembling such average players but it says it all when you're replacing tired legs and aiming to win a quarter final and the man you send on to make the difference is Jordan Henderson.

    Why oh why would you take Wellbeck off but leave Rooney on? Why leave the useless Ashley Young on for 120 minutes and then let him take a penalty? Was anyone surprised when he missed? Why did Hodgson select the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain for this competition - he's only just finding his feet at Arsenal. He's one for the future.

    Am I the only one who cringes at the term 'impact player'? It implies someone who is only good enough to play when everyone else is knackered. Enter Theo Walcott.

  • Comment number 45.

    Sorry, but we got what we deserved.

    You can't give credit to a team that ran around for 120 minutes just to take part in the penalty lottery. Is that what 'the shirt' means? Is that how football is played? Not to compete, but to survive? Not by the Italians it isn't; and not by the Spanish....

    If the powers that be want to have a world-class England team, they have to go with strength in depth; and that means reducing the power of clubs in the club vs country debate, and halting the cherry-picking of continental talent to win titles here at home. But this would mean doing away with the main focus of the Premier League; money. It ain't going to happen. We're never going to win anything while we have so little choice, and so little institutionalized regard for representing the country.

  • Comment number 46.

    All written quite true and painfully familiar. I think the FA should go out of the situational analysis and look into the bigger picture:
    It should answer itself the question why is the premier league a world leader and the English team not?
    Then oblige all millionnaire owners to plan for recruiting and training English kids into schools which every team should create and develop. FA should develop a strategy to get the kids out of the street gangs and into football. Let the street rivalry be solved on the foootball pitch, with rules. Allow, if necessary, Jamaica team, Pakistani team, Polish team, Nigeria team and create a Diversity group somewhere within the leagues hierarchy. Come on, FA! It is not the fault of those who miss poenalties or the coach. It is you. Put things right. Study best experience in Barcelona if you are short of knowledge. Create the regulatory background. Channel the easy billionnaires money into a noble and long term promising cause.

  • Comment number 47.

    We got what we deserved, nothing. Italy are not a World class team at present, yet they took us apart. Roy didn't do to badly with the material he had. The back four did well, with Ashley Cole the only world class player in the team. I'm afraid England are a journeyman team, lots of endeavour, not much class. Why was Milner, Young, Rooney even picked? Rooney, as usua,l was useless, apart from throwing himself down twice to try and win free kicks. overated fat kid with attitude. We need a grass roots revival, but the FA are too busy lining the silk pockets of their blazers.

  • Comment number 48.

    Let's stop beating England up, the analysis is quite pertinent. We were never expected to win this tournament, nobody even gave us a chance of topping the group.
    If 2004/2006 were probably disappointments, there's no heartache here we got what we deserved. Had we won we would have been ridiculous against the Germans. So it's best to leave with our heads held high.
    We entered the competition rebuilding, and we left it still rebuilding. Let's not forget we've only just been handed a new manager, and he'll need time.
    We've got some interesting players, but do we have the right player? I'm not sure, but if we can get the best out of Wilshere, we could well find the missing link.
    Statistically we've never been able to dominate a game, if we get that missing link we'll retain more possession and get the best out of our best assets : Young, Walcott, Rooney who will be reaching their best years now.
    To me the main reason they had a poor tournament was because our midfield was drenched, Parker is good but not world class, he looked tired all throughout the tournament he was probably nursing his injury. Gerrard was also shattered yesterday, seeing him lie down with cramp before extra time was definitely the sign that he can't play every single game any more.

    So we need some extra players, there are some quality holding players so that shouldn't be a problem, but let's see how Wilshere develops in the next coming years.

    Well done lads I wasn't expecting them to go this far to be honest. So there are lots of positives. It's definitely not all doom and gloom.

  • Comment number 49.

    I dont mean this as a knock on Gerrard, I thought he was generally one of the better players for us this year.

    But how can anyone praise Gerrard and then knock England for lack of possession. Being in midfield surely it is part of his job to keep possession and keep the ball ?

    I am using Gerrard and not Parker here because all I heard before and after the game (what little I watched after) from the BBC was how Gerrard was England's Pirlo, and how important Gerrard is to England. Then in the next breath they are slating Englands possession of the ball and passing, something that should be pretty high on Gerrards list of 'must do well in this game'.

  • Comment number 50.

    This is the issue I have with Phil McNulty's blogs......

    One minute he is praising England and how well they are doing (how the set up has been "perfect") and the next day he's back to the "England are rubbish" stance. Not to mention the blog is merely criticism rather than a critique, there is no suggestions of how to improve things or what he (as BBC's expert) believes the next steps to be.

    Anyway, after that rant is finished, let's get to the game. There was nothing wrong with Hodgson's formation in theory. The practicality was that rooney was too tactically indisciplined to stick to his role of dropping deep and pressing pirlo. Far too often he was given too much space. People are being a little too harsh on young and milner as England's main chances in the match came from the wings. The real issue was the centre of midfield and the disappearance of gerrard.

    England should not be too downhearted. They have promise from the youth. Henderson played little, the likes of cleverley & rodwell only returned from injury and should they remain injury free may develop into backbone players. Not to mention the wonderful potential of jack wilshire, england's potential "Andrea Pirlo"?

  • Comment number 51.

    I say things are looking bright for England in the future, given the amount of time Roy had to assemble a team & so forth, he's done more than half a decent job. This English team looked more solid then it did 2 years ago, for Englands sake, I hope Roy stays in charge.

  • Comment number 52.

    However I am pleased we got this far. So well done.

    Read a stat this morning that England's most successful completed pass was Hart to Carrol (and he was only on after 1hr)

    Why do England keepers always hoof the ball forward in hope? Did Buffon do that once?

  • Comment number 53.

    Not sure why there is surprise at the result or the type of performance as given the players there this is pretty much what we should have expected. The real work for Hodgson starts now. Surely at this point he was to identify the new set of players who will take us forward and this has to include some players with flair. I'm expecting to read a fair few posts today that England can't produce players to keep the ball or players who are 'technically good'. Rubbish the players are there and have been for a while but managers have constantly overlooked them for work horses or players who are fast and have no brain.

    It's not all rosy in the garden but it's not the end of the world either. This is a great time to move forward.

  • Comment number 54.

    I switched off after 70 minutes as it was one of the worst games of football I have seen in many a year and if it was not for Pirlo I would have gone sooner.

    Italy were dreadful but were still made to look good by England. They will be thrached by Germany.

    As for Rooney being "World Class", I have always said he is nowhere near close and I was proved right again last night.

  • Comment number 55.

    Stop pinning your hopes on unproven platers. walcott and Ox in particular aren't even automatic starts for Arsenal. Walcott continually flatters to deceive, a great 30mins vs Sweden with total anonimity for 75mins vs Italy. Did he touch the ball 3 times? Wilshire might be a great player, but he just missed an ENTIRE season with injury and who knows how he'll come back and if he'll suffer recourances.

    Rooney wasn't match fit and Gerrard and Terry are nearing the end of their int career, and in Terrys case that might be very soon. Carroll, Young, Milner, Parker was solid pros but just not int quality. Welbeck, Henderson (hahahahahahh), Downing... im sorry, Hodgson did a great job get you out of the group considering how Ukraine & Sweden could very easily have won those matches. An average France too now I think back.

    England were very solid, but you just don't have the quality right now. In 4 years time, you might have a good spine, but someone needs to emerge up front as Rooney can't carry to hopes of a nation on his shoulders alone. Welbeck, Carroll, Defoe were not ideal choices and wouldn't be automatic choices for their club sides.

  • Comment number 56.

    England got a draw against France, everyone thought it was a great result, yet we have seen how poor France really are.

    They were lucky to win against Sweden with 2 lucky goals as their keeper made a bad mistake and Welbeck got lucky with the winner(any non-Englishman to score that goal would've had "good fortune on their side)

    Another poor performance against Ukraine but golden boy Rooney(never looked fit at all over the 2 games) couldn't miss after another goalkeeping howler.

    Then the clamour started as England avoided Spain, although the amount of time the Italians had the ball it could've almost been Spain. One of the most one-sided games ever. An embarrassment by England's standards.

    The best 4 teams are deservedly in the semis(which have only came from groups B and C)

  • Comment number 57.

    Every high-level team that Hodgson has managed has produced this same negative, rigid and unsuccesful football - so its no surprise that we did it again. Our most creative player (Gerrard) stuck running around doing a key defensive role....the list of mistakes is long.
    Let Hodgson manage a small club where he's good, kick out the chumps who run the FA and BBC please get a chief football writer who knows a bit more.

  • Comment number 58.

    Personally I don't blame the players, I think are players are good enough to compete at the very highest level. What was obvious is the way we kept giving the ball away, which makes our stats look rubbish, e.g. possession and shots on goal. On a warm and hence tiring night two things stood out:

    1. Everytime Hart had a pass back to him he booted it in the air back into the Italian midfield giving the ball away. 2. When England got the ball there was an attempt to rush back up the field with 1 or 2 players ending in giving the ball away. This IMO should have been mixed with passing our way slowly back up the field in order to keep more possession.

    I can't see us learning here as England generally make the same strategic errors each tournament. The critics/commentators don't see it, and neither does the management so I can't see anything ever changing.

  • Comment number 59.

    Not a great fan of John Terry but he actuallhy looked like he was trying. Ashley Young demonstrated that he is a good club player and no more. Gerrard and Rooney wandered around like lost souls. When Walcott came on we persisted in trying to go down the left channel where Cole and Young basically were being eaten alive all night. When Pirlo got the ball we just backed away - whenever any of England midfield got the ball there were 2-3 Italians wearing the England player's shirt they were so close. Have we learned nothing? when Italy, Spain, Germany lose the ball they spend energy getting it back! We just stand off. Pretty useless really - no idea in attack and no midfield.

  • Comment number 60.

    The fact that England got that far (further than many expected) says a lot about the heart in the team. However: Last night was a total humiliation against an obviously top team

    It could have been worse... it could have been 4, 5, 6-0 to Italy. If the unthinkable had happened and England got to the semi finals, I'd expect the Germans would have taken a can opener to the defence and it would have been 4, 5, 6-0

  • Comment number 61.

    Time for root and branch reform of English football (am I first to call for it this time?)

  • Comment number 62.

    Perhaps we England fans should count our blessings...the Germans would have destroyed us in normal time, at least we can pretend that we gave the Italians a run for their money...

    Let's hope Wiltshire can remember how to play football after all his time off, I think he was a bit of a prospect, but its been so long since I've seen him play I wonder if I was imagining it...

  • Comment number 63.

    The PL is importing it's best players and England has not produced a proper world class footballer since Gascoigne. There's obviously something going wrong, but what.
    I don't like to see them lose but the hype around Rooney and Gerard beforehand was getting utterly ridiculous. Ironically Terry, because of his positional sense and experience was as good as anyone.
    Pirlo v Gerrard............. mmmmm.

  • Comment number 64.

    The class gap was obvious. Disturbing, but obvious. What was more worrying was the fact that all the England players except Hart and the defence were absolutely cream crackered after just 45 minutes. Midfield and forwards disappeared from the game after half time.
    Poor show..again.

  • Comment number 65.

    Just as in the World Cup in 2002 where nobody had the bottle to say that Beckam was not fit to play and that England may of won the World Cup with Ray Parlour in his place.The same thing applied to Wayne Rooney who was all but a passenger in the two games he played.
    What was James Millner doing in this side? To support Glen Johnson? Do me a favour. Ashley Young crowned off an absolutely useless Championship by missing his penalty.
    If we include Buffons save of Ashley Coles penalty. England had two shots on target for the whole 120 minutes INCLUDING the penalty shoot out!! Englands performance against Italy was pathetic!

  • Comment number 66.

    @57.At 08:26 25th Jun 2012, RWeGood wrote:

    "Every high-level team that Hodgson has managed has produced this same negative, rigid and unsuccesful football"

    What do you expect from Hodgson - have you looked at the players he has available to choose from?

  • Comment number 67.

    The result was never in question.
    For all the brouhaha leading up to this game it was as plain on the nose on your face that the England starting 11 and squad had too many deficienies.
    The list could go on but having no genuinely creative midfielders is a pretty bad place to start and why Hodgson stuck with an appalling Young and a water carrier in Milner beggars belief.
    There were some standout performances overall Gerard, Hart and Lescott spring to mind.
    Up front Rooney was not match fit, Welbeck looked promising but looked overawed at times and Carroll is what he is (nothing special).
    Hodgson should have given Defoe a chance, he has genuine pace and knows where the goal is plus is experienced.
    Back to the drawing board - again.
    The FA talked about a grand vision for England in appointing Hodgson?
    Was this yet more hot air from Bernstein and the Gang of 4?

  • Comment number 68.

    @58.At 08:26 25th Jun 2012, Richard H wrote:

    "Personally I don't blame the players, I think are players are good enough to compete at the very highest level"

    Thanks for the Laugh - just what you need on a Monday morning.

  • Comment number 69.

    It takes only one defeat on penalties to have a legion of "knowledgeable" fans to serve rivers of vitriol in such a blog.

    It was no secret that English football needs to change the approach to developing football players, paying attention to producing technical players on the ball rather than players who can run and be strong.

    England lost on penalties. There was a time in the first half when I was thinking they'd score 2-3-4 when chances were coming one after the other. It wasn't only England not scoring. Also the Italians couldn't score for their lives. Italy had many shots on and off target but, to me, England's chances were more blatant. Yet, the battle was lost in midfield. Italy's passing was much better.

    In defeat, it takes small minds to bring down the team they support, on the silly belief they "play it safe". We have to admit that Italians were a technically better team. It's wrong to say that Hodgson should man-mark Pirlo (and) other Italians. To my eyes, he preferred the solidity on defending - England didn't concede and Italians were wasteful, preferring long balls or shots mainly outside the box which, by default, is an indicator they felt they couldn't penetrate the defense.

    Looking into the Premier League's top sides, we all know that strong English football teams are top because they all have excellent midfields: how many English creative midfielders do they have, collectively, in total? Perhaps Scholes was the solution for England but Scholes is 37 heading to 38 and not 29 heading to 30. England's problem is blatantly obvious and no matter which angle you look at it, you always read the same two words: creative midfielders.

    I was disappointed with the passing from English players, especially on the final third by English players but, then again, had one of some blatant chances got in, the story would be different. Having said that, when Carroll came in he was immense, holding the ball, distributing long passes from defense, creating danger in the Italian half. Watching him play, my mind was going back to how many produce the silly-big-mouth-talk against him. Need I say more?

    Of course, many silly fans will type here their poison on Hodgson's choices on the match. What I saw is, when he tried to change the game, he brought Carroll and Walcott in and the team improved going forward. He kept Young and Rooney, having England playing with Rooney, Young, Carroll, Walcott, trying to win the match. He also brought in Henderson, to tighten the midfield. His choices were the right ones in my eyes. It's only what a manager can do when trying to be positive and he did it.

    England need to look forward, taking the positives from this tournament.
    Congratulations to Italy.

  • Comment number 70.

    Let's face it, England got as far as their quality could carry them. QF and out on penalties is an improvement. RH's boring but disciplined tactics took them that far. No need blaming players because England is full of overrated players with little technique as compared to most of europe. The best players in the EPL over the years are foreigners and football at the grassroot level is taught the wrong way. England will be better off injecting fresh blood and starting all over again. England's player of the tournament for me was Glen Johnson..he was immense and unbelievably strong

  • Comment number 71.

    When it comes to further development of football, worldwide, my mind always goes to FIFA and UEFA making eventually the obvious decision: you can't allow defenders to hold attackers from the shirt, ripping it off on many occasions, almost struggling the attacking players and get away with it. Make it an instant penalty and instruct referees worldwide to give these decisions instantly when they occur. It's becoming a mickey-mouse story and it's a pity. This detail needs to change.

  • Comment number 72.

    Can't agree with Jack. Ashley Cole is a world class player, but for different reasons so is Johnson: he intercepts and nicks the ball effortlessly, he is the most comfortable player on it and he can explode past defenders, cross with vision or shoot with venom. Like a wicket-keeper who keeps scoring tons, we start to question his keeping...Brazil wouldn't, but then they don't play cricket.

  • Comment number 73.

    The gulf in class was to much for England

    Well played Italy and a master class from Pirlo

    Good luck in the semifinal

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    Now I don't want to bash Hodgson he has done a reasonable job in installing a never say die attitude into the players and for that he should be commended. He has also only had a limited time to influence the side too. Thats where it stops for me though. Apart from short spells in games England have been painful to watch this tournament.

    Their opposition has been average at best yet we have handed the ascendency to each one we have faced by going with a zonal defensive plan. Now the England defenders and the keeper have been outstanding in this tournament and they benefit greatly by the zonal marking as teams are generally restricted to shots from distance or having to thread the ball through the eye of the needle. Even Pirlo couldnt do that in this game.

    The problem comes when we do break up the play there is no shape or dimension to our team and hence we lose it very quickly. We have 9 players in a line across our 18 yd line. So we either smack it long and hope Carroll, Rooney, etc can hold it up or we try and play our way out which is highly dangerous.

    If you are going to play two up front then you need a Tevez type player who is going to press the ball high up the park. Pressing equals errors its as simple as that. If forwards press then the midfield can move up the pitch and the full back can also push forward. We are so worried about other teams that we drop back but I say "let them be worried about us". The pressing game is one which most teams in the prem play and yet we as the national team descent back to 'sit back and absorb pressure and hope for a miracle' approach.

    We don't have a ronaldo to break out of defence in a flash or a messi to dribble past players. We have honest footballers who can force the best into mistakes through hard work. No wonder Pirlo looked so good no one got near him all game til he got 25 yards out. Get into him on the half way line and don't let him dictate you.

    I cant keep supporting a team which plays such terrible football whether they show guts or not. Football is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. This was awful and they got what they deserved. I actually think man for man England have better players than Italy as well.

  • Comment number 76.

    I've only been watching football for 45 years, and I don't know enough about it to get paid by the Beeb for pontificating, but I didn't think you could get 'thrashed', 'hammered' or 'slaughtered' 0-0?
    Pirlo was great, but Italy couldn't score; England could have sneaked it if one of the chances in normal time or ET had gone in; they were one bad penalty and one unlucky one from going through.
    It seems to me that after years of unrealistically high expectations, we're now seeing an unduly pessimistic view.
    If Hodgson can get that much improvement in a couple of weeks, we have something to build on.

  • Comment number 77.

    Exactly, we have to look at the way Gerrard and Parker faded away during this game. Statistically when we had our best spell - the best in the tournament, including some deft touches by Rooney, our midfield was in control, but then they got increasingly tired. I can only assume that Parker was lacking fitness. Gerrard had far too much to do, even more than he has when he plays for Liverpool. Gerrard needs a fully fit holding player, and that wasn't the case.

    I genuinely think or rather hope England can take the positives, because we were far more positive than 2 years ago and even 4 years ago.

    I hope for England's sake Arsene Wenger will nurture young Wilshere. I recently watched the qualifiers against Switzerland and you can tell how much an impact that young lad could bring. Then again you've got to take care of him, I can't understand why English players start so early.

    We've got to develop a nuturing scheme instead of rushing players so early. Wilshere wouldn't have been injured if he hadn't been rushed so early. In Chamberlain and Wilshere we have true potential let's take care of them.

    Credit to Hodgson for not hurrying Chamberlain too, that was wise.

  • Comment number 78.

    As a Scot, I'm not that bothered how England did but I'm sure that Roy has done a good job.

    Key players missing and only a month in the job before the tournament and you nearly scrapped through to the Semi finals.

    Roy has carried himself with grace & dignity and comes across as a very dilligent and well respected coach. Good luck to him, although I'm sure he will take England to the next WC, at least - so perhaps not that much luck.

  • Comment number 79.

    To those dissing Rooney, he was heavily marked as the only real threat, and Italy cut off the Gerrard supply. You can't expect him to do anything when he isn't given the ball. Further to that, look at the alternatives... Not one of them would inspire any sort of fear in a team. Carroll played for 75min and did nothing (though not his fault) and Wellbeck.. How many caps between them??? Be honest, there was ahuge debate six weeks ago if they were even the right choices for the squad. You can expect miracles with unproven players. Young was great in warm ups then vanished. But you've a squad with Henderson, Downing, Walcott, Jones etc in it, who have little experience of winning trophies. Gerrard, Rooney and the City & Chelsea players are the onlymone really hardened by big experiences.

  • Comment number 80.

    We'll never get anywhere until the schools FA & local club under 16 leagues turn to 8 a side on half size pitches, forcing the skill requirements up (the long ball is dead on small pitches) and reducing the tendency to produce 6 foot 16 yr olds who are 'good in the air', & with 'good engines'. Its a fact that Messi & most of the Spanish team would not get through English school football. Our best midfielder in recent times the small P Scholes.

  • Comment number 81.

    Can't pass, can't shoot, can't keep the ball longer than 5 seconds, can't take a penalty - look 3rd rate and 4th division - well done Roy - you've made us look useless at the game we invented by sticking 11 donkeys behind the ball for 90 mins, then hoping for a miricle or penalties, and when they came, guess what - you couldn't even organise that properly - I hope the FA sack you

    PS exactly what have you been doing in training ? Certainly wasn't passing the ball to a team mate

    Worst England Team I've seen for the 45+ years I've been watching football

  • Comment number 82.

    Right, I'm bored of reading nonsense from the lot of you, here's some home truths about England and Euro 2012:

    1. Hodgson did what he does best, make the team compact and difficult to beat, looking to take chances with limited possession. Strategy for winning major tournaments? No. Exactly what we got? Pretty much.

    2. You can't have your cake and eat it with Ashley Young. He did not take his chances and that hurt us, but he's a flair player in a workhorse role. You don't make a racehorse plough fields.

    3. Milner, a footballer who I could only described as mediocre before, has impressed me this tournament. He impressed me by doing exactly what was asked of him, namely covering for Johnson, running constantly and very occasionally aiding attacks. Credit where credit's due. From a United fan too, no less.

    4. I've gone beyond loudly insulting people calling for Andy Carrol, I now find it amusing. Go ahead, completely forget the past season, and see how far Andy "Better than Rooney" Carrol gets England. He's lazy,sloppy and has no positioning sense but I'm sure he'll create play and lead the line a treat. I'll be blunter. If you want England to look like Wimbeldon in the 90's (long balls away) for the next 5-10 years, keep calling for Carrol.

    5. Rooney wasn't what we hoped. True. Rooney shouldn't have come along. Possibly. Rooney should have shackled Pirlo. No. Let me tell you from watching him every week, United have never won a game because Rooney man marked someone, neither have England. Here's a thought, let's try playing three midfielders. No? Too radical?

    6. 4-4-2 is dead. Can we all just agree on this and move on? Please? Pretty please?

    7. I know I will never get away with this having announced myself as a United fan and I readily admit that he and Parker were constantly outnumbered in all 4 games, but I didn't think Gerrard was that good. He was good don't get me wrong, put big efforts in, lead well and stole some possession, plus that fantastic assist to Carrol, but otherwise...Parker played pretty much as well, but he's not getting the praise.

    8. There is some hope. Hart, Chamberlain, Welbeck. Lescott looked the part, as did Johnson, finally. There are some good players who didn't go, they played well in patches and with more time to work with them Hodgson can use their faith in him to craft a much more competitive side. Also, they aren't technically deficient, they just aren't in the top 10 world teams, they need a consistent tactical approach and more confidence.

    9. The bad news. Gradual change needs to happen as soon as possible. I'm not saying old guard out now but blood youngsters early and often in the qualifiers. However, this isn't going to happen, Hodgson has shown his hand already and will "keep faith" with this squad. That means everyone who isn't injured or retired from this squad will continue through till 2014. This is not a progressive approach.

    10. And finally. I'm sorry, really I am but I have to say this on the internet to others, why is no-one mentioning Jordan Henderson? Why was he on the pitch? Why was he in the squad? You may say I'm anti-Liverpool but the first person I felt sorry for was Jay Spearing, he's been better than Henderson all season at the same club with no price tag, yet this clown gets called up. He has potential you say? Well, I'm sure he does, but potential, by it's very nature, hasn't happened yet, and £15m+ Henderson certainly hasn't. For all the RioGate, injuries, 6 Liverpool players and snubs, this was the selection that stunk worst for me. I hope he goes on to have a great career (except against United) but right now, he doesn't deserves those caps.

  • Comment number 83.

    Sadly inevitable that we weren't going to ever progress further with this team. Roy did his best in the time available and the players he had at his disposal.

    My only thought RE tactics last night was that with Pirlo running the show, it would have been better to put one of our midfielders on him rather than a forward, we were constantly guilty of giving him far too much space with which he dictated the game.

    I would have taken Rooney off (or not started with him in the 1st place) and moved Gerrard further up the pitch to where Pirlo was playing, so he could break up attacks at the starting point.

  • Comment number 84.

    The out-dated formation of 4-4-2 has cost us once again, completely over-run (again) in midfield, which drives our two central midfielders back defending and the two upfront isolated. Cigar for Roy for uniting the cigar for the out-dated system and his inability to change it during a game...when it is clearly not working. Our players gave their all against self induced waves of attack over all Roys games in charge (including Norway & Belgium).

  • Comment number 85.

    I think people are being way over the top with Hodgson. He has one of the worst England talent pools to pick from ever. What else is he going to do other than make them difficult to beat? I'm sure we would have loved a more attacking team but realism needs to kick in with some fans that in two weeks he was never going to turn them into a great attacking side and that if he was to be successful he needed to make England hard to beat. Greece won it that way. If he'd played an attacking side England would have found themselves on the end of a cricket score.

  • Comment number 86.

    Yes sums it up pretty well. Actually Rooney was pretty good last night but he is only one player. It was a sign of his improved maturity that he realised that and didn't get angry and frustrated as he has in the past. Young was a serious disappointment although he still kept coming to look for the ball even though he seemed to give it away every time he had it. One time in the middle of the second half Gerrard ran fifty yards to overlap on the left and instead of Young passing to him he tried to beat the man inside and lost the ball. Agony.

  • Comment number 87.

    Roy's a very likeable person, but ultimately a mediocre manager. How we can put faith in anyone who takes Andy Caroll with them given the season Andy has had? How can we trust any manager who sees Martin Kelly as a suitable right back to take along with us to a tournament? How can we put faith in a manager who plays Glen Johnson at right back knowing he will have to employ Milner out of position to protect him? Is there really such a paucity of talent within our game? Is Hodgson actually going to be yet another FA/Media 'yes' man who is too afraid to make the big decisions like not taking Rooney given his suspension etc? I guess hindsight is a wonderful thing, however whilst I am sure we will get ot Brazil, with this squad and manager a similar fate awaits.

  • Comment number 88.

    Hodgson only had limited quality to work with, but he still didn't utilise what he did have, so looks like we have another FA Puppet on our hands. How Defoe didnt get a chance when the other forwards all looked completely ineffective against far inferior opposition and the continued picking of Young and Milner who both contributed very little. Rooney was his usual bottling self in big games, worst player on the pitch by a long shot contributing nothing whatsoever, but he would have been first player on the team sheet, shouldn't have even taken him. Is a shame Gerrard was completely exposed by Pirlo and although has had a decent tournament, shows cant really cut it at top level. Praise has to go to defenders and Terry who was man of the tournament for England and put away any doubts about the Ferdinand affair decision. We need a major shakeup in English football to start producing players who can pass a ball and dominate games, we didn't achieve that in a single game.

  • Comment number 89.

    Yeah, of course we should get rid of Hodgson, 2 months into the job, having inherited someone else's team and preparation, with a host of players injured and with limited time to impose a complete shift in thinking and tactics....

    In a nutshell: Young was dire and should not have been on the pitch to take the pen. As maligned as he seems to be, Carroll did hold the ball up well and won most of his headers, there was just no one running off him, and that's not his fault. Rooney was well below match fitness and abandoned his picking up of Pirlo after 20 minutes. The defence was outstanding, end of.

    On the plus side, there is a large amount of young players to come into this side, and should all be fit and on form, I think we will see a very different side playing in England's next competitive game.

    Also, I think this is Germany's tournament to loose now.

  • Comment number 90.

    Well summed up, Phil. We were hammered by a better team, end off. But let's not forget the positives of this tournament: for once, we had the best defence. They should take a huge bow for the way they conducted themselves. If we can sort our midfield and attack out, then England will be the class act that our nation demands.

  • Comment number 91.

    We are lacking in mid field because you need more than just Steven Gerrard. Pirlo can influence the game because he isn't wasting energy chasing it to get the ball back - the rest of the midfield do that, all of them, and then they don't give the ball away when its passed to them or try to hard with their own passes and lose it. The better team's midfield can all pass and receive the ball under pressure, and most importantly press much harder. Our players don't all press for the whole game. In the first half we did it much better and the game was a little more even. in the second half we just ran back to our own goal and invited Italy on. Most of the team (not Gerrrard, Parker and Cole) aren't fit enough.

  • Comment number 92.

    England really need a play-maker, somebody who can hold the ball in mid-field, press the defense of the opposite team and make chances for english attack players. Without this role we will always be an average team. To reach world class we need to shape up this kind of player.

  • Comment number 93.

    Low expectations? Do me a favour... It seemed the majority of the English pundits were claiming England could beat the Italians. What is it with the national team that people have such a blind-spot to? Perhaps it's just amnesia instead. England have never produced players with the technical ability to compete with the best. In a major tournament when the game is on the line in a knock-out phase they're never able to overcome an opponent of serious calibre. They might put in a heroic performance and only lose only penalties but nevertheless they always come up short. The success of a handful of Premier league giants in the Champions League apparently blinds people into thinking that the nation produces great players. Those clubs are stacked with Scots, Welsh, Irish and a many overseas players and I hardly think these clubs would be as successful without them.

    England won their group and got knocked out narrowly by one of the true traditional powerhouses of European football. It's a job well done.

  • Comment number 94.

    I was encouraged by the first 30 minutes, best the team has played all tournament. We were however, totally outclassed by a better team overall and for that fact am happy that Italy went through. Have to agree with the comments about Rooney (good player on his day but not world class). I think Matt LeTissier got it right though, until we get better at holding the ball we won't win a major tournament and will burn ourselves out chasing shadows. England have some good young players to come in, but perhaps we just have to accept that unless some incredible players come in we will only ever achieve our level which is the last 16 or 8 of a major tournament. I think it's this realisation why fans want to see an exciting style of play or at least a consistent style of play.

    I also don't think it matters who the manager is, the players we have can only play to a certain level. Focus for now should be on 'keep football' for our younger

  • Comment number 95.

    @ Kíllìnghölmê_Clᥠ(aka Charlie Cheesecake)

    Opinions are all well and good. The air of apparent authority in your post is what irks me most, the definitive nature of the tone. What comes across is that your opinion is the only one that matters. With regards to England, the only opinion that really matters is the manager's. Hence, your status as an armchair England manager. You believe your opinion to be more relevant than the man that's actually been employed in the first place.

    It is boring, truly, BORING to hear people spout this dross about how managers are "incompetent" or similar. As an international manager, he's been successful. END OF. He cannot be deemed incompetent, because, by definition, he is wholly competent.

    We could argue about the why (he had 2 months and blended a squad of relative experience and inexperience to play as a unit in a fashion that they could quickly grasp, winning a group we wouldn't have been surprised to not get out of) and the how (he put together a backroom team that mixed veteran England staff with new and fresh ideas) but the fact is you're never going to be able to see past your bubble of self-importance.

    Give opinion on the matter, criticise the specifics, but give up calling people "icompetent," "inadequate" and the like, especially given that they are without a shadow of a doubt an immeasurable amount more qualified and competent than yourself. It's ignorant, unwarranted and only serves to portray you as self-centred and bitter.

  • Comment number 96.

    I am English and have been playing football in Germany for 15 years. there training facilities there focus there social and sporting structure are far superior to thing which struck me over the last few days was Englands over Confident and egoistical body language ...Players like Rooney giving Interviews saying we can go all the way .. when in effect he personally knew himself that he was not fit.. I was not fit for the good of the team i would talk to the manager and say better give someone else a chance... I blame Roy Hodgson and his training staff really for last nights performance the players looked jaded and could not string three passes together .. nearly everyone kept giving the ball away.. especially Ashely Young... you cannot keep giving the ball away to opposition like italy they can sense that your inferior and that is why they literally tore us apart. why was pirlo allowed to be so free ?

    Its up to the trainer to send out a team that can string more than three passes together and its up to the trainer and his staff to send out a team that is as strong as it physically can can they say everyone has being working great in training and England could not string three passes together and stop the Italians from dominating us ?? basically they have all been living cuckoo land and The English culture has created these Demi-gods who have too much security and too much money ......

    johnson was the only one i looked on positively really.

    The Fa has to go we need a new system there in England . its obviously not working..they have had over 46 years and still cannot produce nothing .......

  • Comment number 97.

    I live in Spain where the Football is highly skilled, the reason is simple, they (The Spanish) train their players in the skills of football, not to be able to run all day without the ball. When the English club coaches copy this, it will then take 10 - 15 years for the changes to have any effect. I can't see it happening.

  • Comment number 98.

    Well here we are mulling over what could have been but it's the same old story, but with a twist. However why was Rooney playing? I use the term playing very loosely, he hardly ever made a tackle very rarely chased anyone down, his touch was poor, and never looked like scoring. I am not saying Rooney is not a good player but he is not world class, and if Hodgson thinks that he is the white Pele, and the saviour of English Football then he is sorely mistaken and one would have to question his reasoning behind that. Furthermore why would he change a winning side from the one that beat Sweden, Hodgson and the media, ranted on about what "togetherness" and spirit they have, and they came back against Sweden and showed spirit, Ox Chamberlaine was good, Walcott played well, with defenders scared of his pace, and what does Hodgson do? Changes it all, because we have to have the "White Pele" in the England side, a footballer who has yet to prove himself on the world stage, (or even at international level), a player who has not scored since 2004, at tournaments, (up until the Ukraine game)..Yes Rooney scored against a very poor Ukraine side, with a ball that took more deflections than Tony Blair could muster at any house of commons question time, and then bundled it over the line. Rooney was off the pace, never really "looked at the races", yet the media and Hodgson rant and rave about what a truly wonderful player he is and what a game changer and match winner; unfortunately as is always the case he is not; yet Hodgson stuck with the Man Utd players, Young was awful, and well we have seen what Rooney did, or did not do, we would have been better off taking players who have a proven goal scoring record for England.
    Although you cannot blame hodgson; one is left to wonder why he has such an allegiance to the Man Utd players? One positive was that his decision to take Terry proved justified, he was commited and totally professional.
    GM 63 - is absolutely correct when he says that the hype around Rooney and Gerrard was ridiculous...

  • Comment number 99.

    England's performance last night was not unsurprising given the way they conceded possession in the group stages but still no more palatable.
    Their seriously needs to be a root and branch inquiry into English football to look at the causes why England have produced such poor teams over the years.
    We need to curb the excesses of the premier league season and look at ways to develop young talent, with a focus on technical skills and possession football.
    The gulf between England and the better European nations isn't just a deficit in the quality of players but also a deficit in our respective footballing cultures.
    The days of playing 4-4-2 and the long ball are over.
    England will only ever have a chance of winning if we adopt a European model of technically gifted players who can play the ball on the deck and can pass and move with confidence and fluency.
    If we don't make this change now with our kids then we will be left behind forever.

  • Comment number 100.

    I't's not so much people's right to comment and criticize I have a problem with, it's the arrogance and mean spiritedness I find hard to stomach. To have the tactical awareness of a man who has managed successfully at the top level in three or four countries smugly dismissed by some nobody who has probably never even managed the local under 11s side is frankly laughable. By all means express an opinion, but do at least try to include a modicum of balance and maybe just a just a touch of humility. I certainly didn't approve of all Hodgson's selections and tactics, but I am also aware that a man given just over one month to prepare an injury ravaged squad of increasingly exhausted players (no mid season break, remember) with limited technical capabilities (not his fault, try blaming the FA's policies over the past 20-30 years) has done as well as can reasonably be expected.


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