England manager Roy Hodgson takes positives from Euro 2012

 

Roy Hodgson is using Germany's example as proof England fans should not feel too negative about the future of the national side.

Yet again in Kiev last night, England crashed out at the quarter-final stage of a major competition on penalties.

The fact they were comprehensively outplayed by an Italy side who themselves would appear to have their work cut out when they take on co-favourites Germany in their Euro 2012 semi-final in Warsaw on Thursday underlines how much work Hodgson has in front of him.

However, Hodgson does not feel the situation is quite that bleak.

After all, he recalls the difficulties Germany were in prior to the 2006 World Cup, and how much progress they have made since then, as evidence to prove the speed with which fortunes can change.

"Germany went into that tournament unfancied, with a new coach, a lot of new players we didn't know much about and older ones who had failed in previous tournaments," he said.

"We have seen how well they have kicked on since 2006 and have to take heart from that."

Hodgson's optimism is fuelled by the emergence of a promising crop of young players.

Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all gained valuable experience in Poland and Ukraine, Phil Jones and Martin Kelly will also benefit from being around the squad.

Hodgson hinted Kyle Walker and Chris Smalling would have been involved had they not suffered late season injuries, while Jack Wilshere would surely have made the squad too had he not failed to make an appearance all season.

"There is good reason for optimism," he said.

"We have some players coming through who are doing quite well at Under-21 level and I will be interested to see how they do in the Olympics.

"If it had not been for injuries to people like Smalling and Walker there would have been even more young players with us here.

"We have to believe. We have to see the positives where we can and try and ignore the fact that yes, it is another failure on paper because we have not got past the quarter-final stage.

"I don't believe there is as much negativity as perhaps there was.

"But the only way we can build upon what we have done here is by qualifying for Brazil and, when that tournament comes around, trying to better our previous record."

The words are easy to say. Making them effective is far harder.

After all, the so-called Golden Generation has now come to an end without threatening to end that long wait for a major trophy.

And compared specifically to the current Germany team and a Spain side aiming to become the first country to win three major trophies in a row, England actually look further away than ever.

Once more, the frenetic pace on show every week in the Premier League is being cited as a reason for failure.

It would be silly to expect any change on that front given the 20 top-flight clubs have just pocketed a staggering £3billion domestic TV deal purely because of the excitement on offer.

"Leagues are not nations," said Hodgson.

"Our league contains many teams that don't have one English player.

"Having said that, I still think we have more than enough good Englishmen playing in the league to put together a good England national team."

As the present situation has existed for so long, it is hard to imagine any change for a generation, once the new FA coaching hub at St George's Park has begun to have an impact.

After all, if it is going to take a while for the coaches to be coached, the players will be waiting even longer to benefit.

It raises the very real possibility that improvement will not come until after Hodgson's four-year contract has come to an end.

"I would be very happy if that was the case," he said.

"I would like to benefit from it myself of course. It would be even better if that was the case.

"But the fact is when you have been given a job like I have it is a great responsibility, not only for a particular team but for the whole of English football.

"The success of anybody can quite often be measured in what he leaves behind and what happens after they have left.

"I shall be working very hard, not only to win the matches for the team I am working with but also trying to help the FA in any way they think is required to make certain English football continues to progress.

"If we accept, at the moment, people like Germany and Spain are better than us, let's work hard to try and narrow that gap."

PA

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