Fair to say the Euro 2012 build up as an Englishman has been fairly low key. Low expectations, realism and Jordan Henderson pretty much sum it up.
So its surprised me somewhat to be left feeling a bit down from what, on paper, is a fine result against the French. But after sitting through the most tepid game of the tournament so far that’s exactly how I feel.
Theres no doubt that this is a limited England squad, even more limited with Rooney suspended and Lampard injured. But the paucity of attacking options, the lack of spark and the careless handling of possession left this Pom frustrated.
It was, admittedly, a bright opening with Gerrard and Milner both having good chances before Lescott’s header. The Ox also began brightly, before the game settled into its pattern. The French with the possession, and England dropping deeper and deeper.
The tempo was very slow throughout the match, with the heat clearly playing a part. This surprised me too, as the draw was hardly the best of results for the French, who failed to really penetrate, and lacked a bit of zip and purpose throughout.
Hodgson’s two banks of four succeeded in nullifying most of the opposition threats but at times in the second half, you felt that Danny Wellbeck would require a flare to alert his teammates of his presence, so big was the gap between the midfield and forward line.
So its a point. Probably a good one, but not done with much style. Churlish I know, but despite not having great expectations, I still want England to play well. To come in unburdened by predictions of glory and just play. Organised? Yes. Tough to beat? Undoubtedly. Good to watch. Not on your life.
The group is now wide open after Ukraine’s victory over Sweden. That leaves England requiring to beat either bogey team Sweden, or host Ukraine. And it will require a little bit more adventure than we saw in Donetsk last night.