Steven Gerrard hopes England can improve quickly

 

Steven Gerrard hopes England's glaring problem keeping the ball is resolved far quicker than many envisage.

The Three Lions' departure from Euro 2012 on Sunday was accompanied by the familiar hand-wringing over technical deficiencies among English players.

Roy Hodgson's men recorded an inferior percentage of possession throughout the tournament.

It may take the advent of a new FA coaching hub at St George's Park to change things and, as the Burton complex does not open until this autumn, there are fears it could take 10 years for its influence to be felt.

"The education of the young kids is vital," said Gerrard.

"But I hope it doesn't take 10 years. I hope we're good enough to improve and bridge the gap with these big teams before that."

One of the obvious problems is the 'up-and-at-'em' style of the Premier League.

That is what makes the competition so popular though and with a new £3billion TV deal just agreed, it would be a brave man to call for that style to be radically altered.

In any case, of Hodgson's starting line-up in Kiev eight players had won either the Premier League, Champions League or both.

And Gerrard could offer no explanation for what went wrong.

"I don't know," he said.

"It's a difficult question to answer and I am sure it's one of the biggest points of this tournament that the management and coaching staff will have to look into.

"Keeping the ball - especially at this level - is fundamental. It's key if you want to beat the big teams in these tournaments.

"You work so hard without it your opponent ends up running you into the ground and creating chances.

"Football's a mad game at times. If we had won the penalty shoot-out we would have been through to the last four.

"I don't look at stats too much unless it's clear time and time again that something's sticking out so obviously.

"In this tournament we have come up short as far as possession is concerned."

 

PA

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