Euro Mills & Boom: Penalties on the cards

Date published: Thursday 21st June 2012 3:02

Hi everyone, Danny here checking in from Poland. You can hear my thoughts on Euro 2012 every morning on Sky Sports News Radio.

Have a read and leave a Comment below.

Smells like team spirit

I think everyone is quite pleased with England so far. The team spirit has played a massive part and the players seem a lot more relaxed. Of course it helps when you’re winning football matches, it’s a lot easier to have a good team spirit when things are running smoothly.

But I think the fact they’ve been based in Krakow has helped. They’ve been able to go around town, see friends and go out for a little wander rather than be miles from anywhere. I think people are now starting to realise England aren’t playing well but it doesn’t matter. This is competition football over a very short period of time and it’s all about winning.

At the moment England are playing to their strengths. They’ve been organised, they’re staying compact, they’re riding their luck at times and the big players like Joe Hart, John Terry and Steven Gerrard are playing well.

I think this is the first time in a while where the heart and the spirit seems to be there.

Low-key build-up

It’s important that the players stay focused but you have got to stay relaxed at the same time. There’s a very fine line between relaxed and casual and I think at the moment the players seem to have it right. Roy Hodgson has done a good job, he has got the team organised and they all know what is expected of them. They all know their own roles and that helps.

I just think the team has a decent spine, it’s not amazing and it’s not world-beating. England do have limitations in the quality and the way we keep the ball sometimes – but that doesn’t matter.

The likes of Arsenal in their day won championships by being solid and winning 1-0 – so it can be done.

People will say it’s not the prettiest, not the most technical, but it has been such a long time since England have got to a final I just think that would be an incredible achievement – but it’s going to be very difficult to get there.

Simple but effective football

We’re not as good as Spain, we’re not as good as Germany. So we have to find a different way to win. Simplicity is genius in football. If you’ve got the ball, they can’t score. Scoring goals is the hardest thing in football, so if you can be organised like Chelsea were against Barcelona, it can be very difficult for the opposing team to score.

England have got players that can hit teams on the break like Theo Walcott, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck. There is always a chance England could score with them on the break. From a defender’s point of view if you keep a clean sheet there is always a chance of winning a football match.

Honest Hodgson

It’s good that Hodgson has been open with the media. He has been quite clever as well, playing on the ‘I haven’t had time to prepare them’ line.

He hasn’t in all honesty, he hasn’t had a chance to go all around Europe and watch how the Italians play. The Italians are a good side. Tactically and defensively against Spain they were phenomenal.

I think a big plus for England is if Chiellini doesn’t make it. That will be a huge advantage for England. He’s what you would call stereotypically Italian in the way he defends. He’s pulling shirts, he’s getting tackles in and sometimes the odd dangerous tackle. He has a lot of experience with over 50 caps and has had a fantastic season with Juventus. They do have a really good side and the players to cause England some problems. Either team could win it.

Young would be missed

We haven’t seen the best of Ashley Young going forward. He has worked hard for the team like James Milner on the other wing – but this is the difference between this England side, it’s very much a team rather than a group of individuals. Yes of course he would be a miss, you want every single player fit. You can’t risk playing them with an injury at such a high level. There are players that can come in, that will have been working hard in training. If he is ruled out it will be a miss but it’s not something England can’t cope with.

Practice makes perfect

Although I’ve been a critic of Steve McClaren and some of his managerial methods, as a coach he was fantastic and we used to practice penalties when I was at Middlesborough every day. It’s a bit like a golfer – you do something often enough it becomes automatic. Hopefully it won’t go to penalities but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion it might do.

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