Reasons to be optimistic for England fans

DECENT START: England boss Roy Hodgson

DECENT START: England boss Roy Hodgson

First published in Blog The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Football/Golf Writer

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 (6)

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10:00am Wed 13 Jun 12

jewitt says...

Interesting article but sad to see you have fallen for the Hodgson spin that France were a great side. France were basically your poor man's Spain and we showed too much respect. Hodgson is ok adapting a small group of modest players to his rigid one dimensional method but when he faced with choices he flounders because he has one basic tactical pattern. A small businessman trying to run a big ship. Failed at Liverpool and Blackburn and will fail England. To be fair to him this is the worst generation of England players in the last 20 years. Milner and Johnson are not international class period. Think about Gascoigne, Pearce and Beardsley and it puts these players into perspective. the ball retention wasn't poor on Monday it was pathetic. Don't take my word for it look at the evidence - shots on goal and corners.
Interesting article but sad to see you have fallen for the Hodgson spin that France were a great side. France were basically your poor man's Spain and we showed too much respect. Hodgson is ok adapting a small group of modest players to his rigid one dimensional method but when he faced with choices he flounders because he has one basic tactical pattern. A small businessman trying to run a big ship. Failed at Liverpool and Blackburn and will fail England. To be fair to him this is the worst generation of England players in the last 20 years. Milner and Johnson are not international class period. Think about Gascoigne, Pearce and Beardsley and it puts these players into perspective. the ball retention wasn't poor on Monday it was pathetic. Don't take my word for it look at the evidence - shots on goal and corners. jewitt
  • Score: 1

11:41am Wed 13 Jun 12

Echo Sport says...

I agree, Jewitt, in the sense that France have been built up to be a great side. But, to be fair, they are unbeaten in 22 matches under Blanc and a quick look around Euro 2012 suggests they are a strong unit.
Hodgson's training ground work at club level annoyed certain players because it was very repetitive. I do think that in the surroundings of international football - where players only join up with one another every now and again - Hodgson's methods could work to England's advantage.
This is unlikely to be the tournament England's trophy drought ends (here's hoping I'm wrong!) but at least the foundations for further progress under his watch should have been laid.
- PAUL FRASER
I agree, Jewitt, in the sense that France have been built up to be a great side. But, to be fair, they are unbeaten in 22 matches under Blanc and a quick look around Euro 2012 suggests they are a strong unit. Hodgson's training ground work at club level annoyed certain players because it was very repetitive. I do think that in the surroundings of international football - where players only join up with one another every now and again - Hodgson's methods could work to England's advantage. This is unlikely to be the tournament England's trophy drought ends (here's hoping I'm wrong!) but at least the foundations for further progress under his watch should have been laid. - PAUL FRASER Echo Sport
  • Score: 0

12:49pm Wed 13 Jun 12

MSG says...

Well done Hodgson, the right choice.
A satisfactory result. Yes Caroll should have been used later on.
Even when Redknap is not involved in England he still makes the headlines as per yesterday. This is why Roy was the correct choice.
Well done Hodgson, the right choice. A satisfactory result. Yes Caroll should have been used later on. Even when Redknap is not involved in England he still makes the headlines as per yesterday. This is why Roy was the correct choice. MSG
  • Score: 0

3:48pm Wed 13 Jun 12

Paul Fraser says...

MSG > I must admit I would have liked to have seen what Redknapp could have offered the England set-up. He's done a decent job over the years where ever he has been.
However, I think Hodgson has been a very sensible appointment too. I always wanted an English manager to get the England job after the efforts of Fabio and Sven.
MSG > I must admit I would have liked to have seen what Redknapp could have offered the England set-up. He's done a decent job over the years where ever he has been. However, I think Hodgson has been a very sensible appointment too. I always wanted an English manager to get the England job after the efforts of Fabio and Sven. Paul Fraser
  • Score: 0

12:19am Fri 15 Jun 12

jewitt says...

Echo Sport wrote:
I agree, Jewitt, in the sense that France have been built up to be a great side. But, to be fair, they are unbeaten in 22 matches under Blanc and a quick look around Euro 2012 suggests they are a strong unit.
Hodgson's training ground work at club level annoyed certain players because it was very repetitive. I do think that in the surroundings of international football - where players only join up with one another every now and again - Hodgson's methods could work to England's advantage.
This is unlikely to be the tournament England's trophy drought ends (here's hoping I'm wrong!) but at least the foundations for further progress under his watch should have been laid.
- PAUL FRASER
Thanks for the response. It will be interesting to see the impact Hodgson's methods have at international level. i agree club and international management are different beasts. HIs record with Switzerland was respectable. I just query whether he has the creativity (or even the players) to change games if the plan goes wrong. Once again a super article even if I take the counter-view.
[quote][p][bold]Echo Sport[/bold] wrote: I agree, Jewitt, in the sense that France have been built up to be a great side. But, to be fair, they are unbeaten in 22 matches under Blanc and a quick look around Euro 2012 suggests they are a strong unit. Hodgson's training ground work at club level annoyed certain players because it was very repetitive. I do think that in the surroundings of international football - where players only join up with one another every now and again - Hodgson's methods could work to England's advantage. This is unlikely to be the tournament England's trophy drought ends (here's hoping I'm wrong!) but at least the foundations for further progress under his watch should have been laid. - PAUL FRASER[/p][/quote]Thanks for the response. It will be interesting to see the impact Hodgson's methods have at international level. i agree club and international management are different beasts. HIs record with Switzerland was respectable. I just query whether he has the creativity (or even the players) to change games if the plan goes wrong. Once again a super article even if I take the counter-view. jewitt
  • Score: 0

5:54pm Wed 20 Jun 12

Paul Fraser says...

Jewitt >> I think there are still question marks over whether Hodgson can make England more adventurous. That was highlighted against Ukraine - and to a point both Sweden and France.
At this stage it does look like England are defensively strong and capable of taking the lead in matches. I would still like to see them build on that and go for a second goal in games, though.
Having said that, if England go all the way winning by the odd goal we would be all happy!
Jewitt >> I think there are still question marks over whether Hodgson can make England more adventurous. That was highlighted against Ukraine - and to a point both Sweden and France. At this stage it does look like England are defensively strong and capable of taking the lead in matches. I would still like to see them build on that and go for a second goal in games, though. Having said that, if England go all the way winning by the odd goal we would be all happy! Paul Fraser
  • Score: 0

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