For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Reasons to be optimistic for England fans
AFTER three matches in charge and just ten training sessions, Roy Hodgson has successfully masterminded his first point in competitive football as England manager.
The fact the positive result arrived against a French team well fancied to do well at Euro 2012 and unbeaten in 22 games only increased the satisfaction. There will, though, be no rush to get carried away - and nor should there be.
It is far too early in Hodgson's reign for him to publicly declare he has got England playing the way he wants them to, even if all the evidence in Donetsk on Monday suggested he is well on his way.
Ball retention was still not to the standard Hodgson, the players and fans would like to see, but there was a greater calmness and composure than there has been in previous tournament outings by those in Three Lions shirts.
On many occasions, particularly in the opening half, England's defence seemed happy to pass the ball between themselves, occasionally moving forward to involve Scott Parker or Steven Gerrard.
Now Hodgson will be hoping such an approach will have a positive impact on those further up the field, with the wingers and forwards asked to be just as comfortable in keeping possession.
Manipulating the ball as an attacking force was apparent in the early part of England's draw with France and almost created an early goal for James Milner, but that soon disappeared as the match wore on.
But if Hodgson can work on that in the build up to the final Group D games against Sweden on Friday and then against the Ukraine next Tuesday then a quarter-final place could be on the cards.
It might not be the time to get over excited as England fans, but in keeping a team largely at bay possessing the attacking prowess of Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri then there are reasons to be slightly optimistic.
Aside from his goal, Joleon Lescott illustrated he has the ability and mentality to become John Terry's partner for the rest of Euro 2012 in the absence of Gary Cahill (lets not mention Rio Ferdinand).
Glen Johnson is one of the most threatening full-backs in the world on the attack, but what Hodgson has cleverly done is realise he needs to play a work-horse in front of him.
Milner, for all he may not have the unpredictability of Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, does deliver a teasing cross and will tend to cover for Johnson when the Liverpool man goes walkabout.
Hodgson was also wise to hand Jordan Henderson an early appearance in the finals as a substitute. The former Sunderland man, whose inclusion still surprises most supporters, could become an important figure over the next two weeks.
Following the withdrawal of Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard, Hodgson knows he could have to turn to Henderson whenever Parker - who is still not fully over his Achilles problem - tires in the middle. Being asked to come on and see out the draw against France should give Henderson the confidence for the games that lie in wait.
It was not all positive against France. There were times when Hodgson should have thought more about instructing his team to threaten the Les Bleus backline, who would have found the presence of Andy Carroll in the latter stages a real nuisance.
The England boss knows he still has the return of Wayne Rooney to think about for the final group game with the Ukraine. Firstly he must come up with slight improvements to knock Sweden out of Euro 2012.
Whatever the outcome on Friday in Kiev, the Ukraine will be no pushovers in front of their own fans and any hopes of heading in to a non-contest match against the co-hosts next week have already vanished.
It's been a good start under Roy Hodgson, now he just has to make sure it continues.
Comments are closed on this article.