Paul Parker

England still have a long way to go

Paul Parker

View photo

England's unconvincing 1-0 win over Norway at the weekend was further proof, if any were needed, that at this moment in time we are struggling.

We are in a tough situation but Roy Hodgson is the man to see England through it. He has the right credentials for the job, but given the lack of quality available to the England national team it is a bit of a thankless task for him.

We were outplayed and, in terms of possession, beaten by Norway. The only aspect of the game in which we were superior to them was the score. It is very concerning that when we are this close to a major tournament we are allowing a team like Norway to dominate.

Hodgson has got a very difficult job and I think somewhere along the line someone is going to have to speak up on his behalf and admit that England have to go back to basics and try and build from the ground up. Our squad at the moment isn't kidding anyone.

Germany and Netherlands also lost at the weekend but I am sure they would have taken more positives from those defeats than we did from a victory.

Brede Hangeland said that the England players all looked tired, which if true is very disappointing. All the big players around Europe have had long seasons: when you play for successful sides you play a lot of football - there is no getting away from that. There are plenty of Norway players who have had long seasons as well.

We didn't see anything very different from England, though an injury suffered by Gareth Barry is likely to force Hodgson into a rethink because it is expected he will be ruled out of the finals as a result.

In that sense it was good that Hodgson gave Phil Jagielka the chance to feature at the weekend, as he has now been called up following Gareth Barry's injury.

I don't think Henderson did enough to justify a place in the squad on the basis of his performances for Liverpool this season. He has only had a big price tag to inflate his reputation - which didn't do him any favours. He has been a bit poor in truth. To be honest, Steve Bruce deserves a Nobel Prize for getting £20 million for him.

Hodgson has opted to bring in Jagielka to replace Barry and then use Phil Jones as an auxiliary midfielder. Jones's problem is that no one knows his best position though, and if he is not careful he could become the next Phil Neville at United: a jack of all trades but master of none. At the moment he doesn't look to be a right-back, he has had some difficult afternoons at centre-back and he has also played in midfield for England on a couple of occasions. I don't know what his best position is.

There are other issues to be addressed in midfield. Now Hodgson has made Steven Gerrard captain, it would be absolutely stupid to bring in Frank Lampard. You cannot do that; you may as well go back 10 years. It has never worked: it has been two big-name players from big clubs who have never looked right when playing together. So that surely means Lampard will be on the bench, but how will he react to that? Is he going to accept it? I very much doubt it.

Meanwhile, in attack, knocking big balls to Andy Carroll won't work against any top-class opposition at a major tournament. It just doesn't work at that level of football. However, it looks like Hodgson will be starting him up front so we will just have to hope we can get through the first two games until Wayne Rooney returns from suspension. Even then it will probably just be delaying the inevitable.

Surely there isn't anyone who actually expects England to win the Euros - we would need even more than the luck of Chelsea to do that - and Saturday just demonstrated how far we have to go before we can have any hope of doing something at the finals.

View Comments