It was the same old story for England at Euro 2012. Knocked out on penalties for the sixth time and the fourth time this has happened at the quarter-final stage. Not surprisingly, such was the inevitability of their demise that it has been accepted with acceptance bordering on indifference back home in the UK.
The roots of their failure at Euro 2012 go back to the last World Cup where a similarly dismal performance was not dealt with. Fabio Capello should have been dismissed but retained his job for Euro 2012 until handing in a shock resignation over the removal of the captaincy from Chelsea’s John Terry. That left England high and dry with an average team and no coach and a major tournament fast approaching. Immediate speculation regarded the possible appointment of then-Tottenham coach Harry Redknapp, dubbed “the people’s choice” to succeed Capello. Instead, the FA announced that it would be unfair to take a coach from the Premiership at such a crucial stage of the season. This eventually left Roy Hodgson with only a matter of weeks and two friendly matches to form a squad.
Rather like Hodgson had done at West Brom, he inherited a moderate side in urgent need of producing some results. In that respect he has succeeded, their only defeat under his charge coming in their elimination by penalties against Italy. Talk of “doing a Chelsea”, a reference to their recent Champions League success, was disturbing in that it evoked an image of a side hell-bent on defending for ninety minutes in the hope of scoring a breakaway goal or winning on penalties. Sadly for England, they could not change the pattern of England losing on penalties after a negative display against an average Italian side.
Chelsea may have had to ride their luck but they also had to deal with red cards, injuries and suspensions. True, England could point to the absence of Rooney for the two opening games and the pre-tournament injuries to Lampard, Cahill and Barry but they did have a large pool of players to call upon. Chelsea were forced into a backs-to-the-wall mentality whereas England chose to adopt one.
England’s next objective is qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Their group could hardly be any easier. They are drawn with Poland, Montenegro, Moldova and San Marino. Failure to qualify from that group is unthinkable and it is little wonder that Bet365 make them 1-7 to do so. Their prospects of actually winning the World Cup are another matter entirely and there is unlikely to be a stampede to take up the 20-1 offered by William Hill.
Author Profile: Harvey Mayson+