Opinion: No Saint, Just Greavsey – Plenty of positives despite England’s inevitable Euro 2012 shootout exit

By Andrews Greaves

There was a grim inevitability about England’s exit from Euro 2012 to Italy on penalties last night.

But while we always had a feeling it would end like this, there is still plenty to take from a display that was much more disciplined than we have seen from the Three Lions in recent tournaments.

After daring to voice the opinion that England had actually played okay on various social network platforms I was quickly shot down in what is a typically English response to a defeat.

In no way am I suggesting that we deserved to go through but credit where credit’s due, we were disciplined for 120 minutes, even under wave after wave of Italian pressure.

We lacked any sort of cutting edge going forward but we were still able to carve out a couple of decent clear-cut chances and had they been taken then we could have been looking at a completely different outcome.

Roy Hodgson claimed after the game that our obsession with penalty shootouts – of which we have lost six of the last seven – had come back to haunt us again.

I’d suggest that the reaction to our latest quarter-final defeat – the habit of looking for a scapegoat and to instantly deride the national team – is also becoming an obsession.

No-one expected us to achieve very much in this tournament yet as soon as we are out, some people seem to act as though we were favourites to lift the trophy and that Ashleys Young and Cole – who missed the decisive spot kicks – should be sent to the Tower of London for treason.

Time to wake up and smell the coffee guys.

We may not have been anywhere near the level of the Spaniards, the Germans, the Italians or the Portuguese – who are all worthy semi finalists – but I’d argue until the cows come home that Euro 2012 has been a relative success.

Hodgson was thrown together with his squad just weeks before the plan to Poland took flight yet he has already got them working as a team and instilled a level of workrate that has always been lacking under the likes of Fabio Capello and Sven Goran-Eriksson.

He also led us to winning a group which many critics thought we would not even escape from.

And unlike the rest of the beaten quarter finalists, we remain unbeaten in 90 minutes with two clean sheets to add to the pair picked up in the pre-tournament friendlies.

Call me a blind optimist but I don’t think that can be viewed as unsuccessful.

With two years until the World Cup in Brazil, the nation needs to regroup, allow the players to make their mistakes and try and whip up some genuine belief that we can go into major tournaments and be the team to beat.

Until we find that level of positivity, we’re forever destined to be in the shadows of our technically superior European neighbours.

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