Heart and commitment enough for glory, says Hodgson

Reuters, Friday 15 Jun 2012

England can go all the way at Euro 2012 with heart and commitment, Roy Hodgson said

Roy Hodgson
England's soccer team manager Roy Hodgson, right, talks to players Joleon Lescott, left, Leighton Baines, second left, and Ashley Cole, second right, during a training session at the Donbass Arena, at the Euro 2012 soccer championship, in Donetsk, Ukraine, Sunday, June 10, 2012. (Photo: AP)

England may not play fancy football but they can still go all the way at Euro 2012 with heart and commitment, manager Roy Hodgson said on Thursday as his team gear up for their Group D game against Sweden.

Greece showed organisation and discipline alone could win a tournament and the Netherlands' disappointing start to the European Championship proved that quick passing football does not always prove effective.

England played with two banks of four near their penalty area against France and it earned a 1-1 draw against France in their opening game in Donetsk.

Scott Parker praised the team's commitment after the game but wondered whether that was enough to win tournaments.

"I'm surprised that Scott Parker questioned how far it would take us," Hodgson told a news conference. "I can understand he said we showed a lot of heart and commitment but I thought he was saying that in a positive way, not the way you're slanting it.

"There are no doubts that tournaments are won by teams very well organised, very much together, committed to the cause and we've seen many times in the past teams which haven't been at all fancied at the start of the tournaments have used these qualities not just go far but to actually win the tournament.

"I'm delighted to hear the players I'm working with share my desire for the team to show those qualities."

There is, however, room for improvement.

According to Hodgson, who refuted the idea England were technically inferior to their rivals, his players could do better near the box.

"We need to make certain we maximise our counter-attacking opportunities," he said.

"We need to make certain that the last pass, the last cross or the actual shot is very clinical because it's hard to get good chances at this level.

"You're never going to get many in the course of a game. You have to be effective when the chances come your way and when I say chances I'm not talking about clear-cut chances, I'm talking about situations we found ourselves in when we got behind the defence in a wider area and it's a question of making certain that the last pass gives someone a chance to score a goal."

Even if they do not manage that, captain Steven Gerrard believes England will win Friday's clash at the Olympic stadium if they play as well as they did against France.

"I'm confident that if we reach the same level it will be enough for victory," Gerrard said.

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