So England go out again from a major tournament, again from the Quarter Finals and again, on penalties.
But is it the same old story?
Last night, for a long time, I was really gutted we went out. In the past, once it got to penalties you just knew we were going to bottle it, but last night I actually believed. I actually thought that we would beat Italy on penalties, and get to the semi-finals.
But yet again, it wasn’t to be.
Usually I am frustrated by England when they go out of a major tournament but today I just feel proud. I don’t know what it is, whether the expectations were lower than usual, that we played within our capabilities and go the best out of the players or whether it was because Hodgson has given England a bit of dignity again.
But now we’re out the blame game has started. People are already slating Roy Hodgson for his “negative” tactics, Wayne Rooney for disrupting a team that was playing well, and Ashley Young and Ashley Cole for their penalty misses.
I don’t understand the criticism Hodgson is receiving. He knows very well that our players are technically inferior and I don’t blame him one bit for using “Chelsea tactics” in Euro 2012. I agree with him that this was the best way to get the most out of the players and I was a bit miffed at the BBC’s expert punditry when they said England were lucky to get the game to penalties and didn’t deserve to win the game on spot kicks anyway.
Er… excuse me! Wasn’t that England’s game plan? Just because Chelsea did better with their penalties than England doesn’t mean England didn’t deserve to win. There’s this strange notion that more possession and prettier football wins games. As every Arsenal fan has know over the last 15 years is that the team playing the more attractive and attacking football doesn’t always win. I my eyes, if you get a lucky win you deserve it – you have taken your chances when they’ve come to you. And if you’ve had 70% of the ball and not scored then you only have yourself to blame – what did people want, England to let Italy score?
England are average and I am happy they managed to get the game to penalties. So what if they rode their luck? Greece won Euro 2004 and they had a game plan, system and the players to make it work. This is knockout football and the most important thing is setting your team out to get to the next round – and for me Roy Hodgson did that.
You can’t blame the penalty takers, although Ashley Young had a terrible tournament. And I would have liked to see Theo or Andy Carroll take one instead. Young did not look confident at all stepping up (neither did Cole, strangely) and before they even took their kicks I knew they would miss. Even Johnson would have been better option, and I’m not sure if the players volunteered or were told to take penalties. You’re better giving them to players that want to take one.
Wayne Rooney is a tough one. He’s a top player but the argument is he hasn’t done it for England. And England have looked bright up front with Welbeck and Carroll – players that have no fear going into their first big international tournament. But Hodgson would have been lynched if he didn’t play Rooney so he didn’t have much choice starting him for the last 2 games.
So who’s to blame for England’s exit?
Andrea Pirlo, someone that after taking THAT penalty deserves a lot of man love.