Football: 'Now we've got to show the real bulldog spirit in Bulgaria'

EVEN FOR one of nature's optimists England's manager, Kevin Keegan, was left clutching at the thinnest of straws blowing in the wind and rain of Wembley after yesterday's abject performance. To his great credit, he still managed to muster a smile as he offered his analysis of the afternoon's events.

"I thought at half-time we couldn't play much worse, but within a minute of the second half we were down to 10 men and up against it. Graeme Le Saux had to come off because he's had a bit of a virus and was having a job breathing, so there was a lot of readjusting to do. In the end I was starting to think a draw might not be a bad result. It was one of those days.

"It was disappointing because we needed to win today. To be perfectly honest, no excuses, we never really got going and I can't give a reason for that. We never played at the pace we'd been talking about doing. Of course, we knew the opposition would be resilient and they made it difficult for us."

Like most observers, Keegan had no complaints about the two yellow cards shown to Paul Scholes. "I've no argument with it," he said. "I'm not annoyed with him or anything; he's a sparky little player who wants to win. I think had the referee known he'd already booked him, he might have been lenient, but that wouldn't have been following the rules. That's his game, he's tenacious, and as the surface got greasier, you had to time it right. With the new rules, he won't be the last England player to be sent off at Wembley. With the rules as they are, you just can't afford to make mistakes like that."

As for the group position, the manager believes that little has changed with this result. "It was always going to be the same going to Bulgaria on Wednesday. Nothing's changed really. Except that we need to win it. It's the play-offs at best now and we've got some work to do to get there. Obviously we've now got to show the real bulldog spirit in Bulgaria. We've taken a bit of a knock. We're down but not out."

Neither Keegan nor his captain, Alan Shearer, wanted to use fatigue at the end of a long season as an excuse for the performance, though Shearer said: "After starting well in the first few minutes we looked as if we had heavy legs. We should have played better, but the spark wasn't there for some reason. We never really looked like scoring. You don't get anything off Sweden at the best of times and now it looks as if it's going to have to be the play-offs and winning games all the way or we are in trouble."

The Swedes seemed surprised that they had enjoyed such an easy time of it all afternoon. "I didn't have anything to do during the whole game," said Coventry City's goalkeeper, Magnus Hedman. "We knew they were going to start very brightly, especially in the first 15 or 20 minutes of each half, and that we had to keep it tight.

"I was surprised England didn't make many chances, but with the defence I've got in front of me it's easy to be a goalkeeper. We're not there yet, but one more victory and we'll be very close."

sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor