Glenn Hoddle accuses England Under-21s of playing 'too many long balls' against Italy

The former England manager unimpressed by manner of defeat at the European U21 Championships

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The Independent Football

Former England manager Glenn Hoddle has hammered Stuart Pearce's under-21 side for the manner of their defeat to Italy in last night's European Championship opener.

Lorenzo Insigne's free-kick proved the difference in Tel Aviv, where the Azzurrini secured a deserved 1-0 victory in Group A.

The Young Lions felt aggrieved to have seen a Craig Dawson header disallowed early in the second half, but manager Pearce admitted afterwards his side were simply second best.

Hoddle, his former manager at international level, wholeheartedly agreed with that assessment and was particularly irked by the manner of the defeat.

"I was disappointed we lost, but I think it is very disappointing the way we played, we didn't get anywhere near," he told Sky Sports.

"We struggled to pass the ball all night until perhaps the last 10 minutes when the game got stretched and we went 1-0 down, and sometimes it is easier to play when you are 1-0 down as you have nothing to lose.

"I was disappointed with how we played long, we played too many long balls - we had no options on the ball and it is a concern it is running through to the national team, the full team, and this team.

"We have got to find players that can cope with the ball and be confident to take the ball even when they are marked. We haven't got those type of players in there at the moment.

"Overall, it was very disappointing. They were a class above us a football team."