England crashed out of Euro 2013 with no wins and only one point which came against the lowest ranked team in the competition. We lost to Spain and France, and although we lost to an unlucky own goal to the Spanish we deserved to lose because we defended poorly.
All of this made people ask one question, what next for Hope Powell and England?
First of all, they are not alone in their win-less tournament because this summer England’s men’s under 21’s and under 20’s all flew back home without a win. Overall it has been a poor summer of football for English fans.
It was much worse for the Women’s team because they reached the the final in the last Euro’s and only lost to the then six time winners Germany. The did lose 6-2, but with all of the women’s teams improving England were expected to perhaps go one better. It was backed up when England arrived in Sweden on an eleven match unbeaten run.
England were poor throughout the tournament, there wasn’t a lack of effort but there was just a lack of quality.
Karen Bardsley made that fatal mistake of conceding an own goal in the dying seconds of the opening game, and although she did improve as the tournament went on, that mistake cost us a point and gave Spain an extra two.
The defence made mistakes in the first game, and skipper Casey Stoney said that it wouldn’t happen again. However, they made the same mistakes throughout the course of the group stage and it cost us in all of the games. One of our worst pieces of defending came in the game against France with the first goal. There was mistakes from Houghton, Stoney, Bradley and Williams. Although in that game, is was a master class from the French it was also a defensive horror show from the English.
The midfield which mainly consisted of Scott, Williams and Asante were good when they got on the ball but they didn’t have enough possession. Asante lacked quality when she was on the ball because she repeatedly gave the ball away, I don’t think she deserved to be in the team. Scott and Williams tried to vary the passes but they were dominated by the opposition.
The wingers which were Aluko, Carney and Yankey, although Carney came in for Yankey, and I thought that the played well in all of the games. Aluko created chances and scored our first goal of the campaign, I think that she was our most consistent player of the tournament and one of the few players who could be proud of their performances. Rachel Yankey offered England more width and she could cross with her left foot, and we missed a left footed player when she was injured. Carney did well when she came in by whippping balls in to create problems, but at the end of the day you need the forwards to put the ball in the net.
The strikers which were mainly Duggan and White although Smith did come off the becnh in the last two games. Duggan did well when she came on to the field in the Russia game and gave England that attacking spark they lacked and she ended up getting the late goal to give England a lifeline. However, in the game against France she didn’t get enough of the ball to make an impact along with her strike partner Ellen White. Ellen White looked as if she lacked confidence in all of the games because when she had opportunities to score, she scuffed them all. Kelly Smith didn’t play much football due to injury but when she did play she inspired the team to perform. Our poor defending meant we had to score lots of goals, but we could only manage three goals compared to France’s 7, Spain’s 4 and Russia who also scored three.
Even if we did somehow get to the last eight, who would we have beat. The last eight consisted of France, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Spain and Italy.
I know we wouldn’t have played France or Spain but we lost to both of them in the group and deserved to lose, so we would have crashed out.
I think we would have lost to Denmark because they gave it their all against France and although they possibly didn’t deserve to win they defended well enough to take it to penalties. We all know what happens with England and penalties.
We would have lost to Sweden because they have played fast paced football and they have had the crowd behind them. They scored the most goals in the group stage, and we conceded the most. I think that that fact is self explanatory.
We would have lost to Germany because they are one of the favourites and although they haven’t performed well so far they have done enough to get through to the last four. They are a great team, and when great teams don’t perform to the best of their ability they will try and find a way to get something from the game.
We would have lost to Norway because they have been a strong team especially when they faced the Germans. They defended well and posed a threat going forward, it was an overall good performance from the whole team. They also beat Holland by one goal, and they only conceded against Iceland in their group. The Norwegians comfortably beat Spain 3-1 in the quarter-final, although one of the goals was an own goal which could have been prevented.
I think that we would have lost to the Italians because they have played well in the tournament but they lost to Germany in the last eight. I just think that they lost to the Germans because they found a way to win. Italy played well in the group stage and only lost out on being group winners because of the hosts.
I think the only team we could have beat was Iceland, but they played well in the group and the only game they lost was against the holders. Iceland did well but they crumbled when they played against bigger and better opposition. On the other hand, England might not have beat them because we should have comfortably beat Russia.
The coach Hope Powell has been criticised after every game her side played for various reasons. The main reason was the timing of her subs because they were far too late. She should have brought on Toni Duggan at least 10 minutes earlier against Russia to give us a better chance at winning the game. She could have brought on Duggan in the opening game to see if we could win the game. I also feel that she should have played Nobbs in some part of the games to give her some tournament experience.
There was also criticism for not rotating the squad when the players looked tired, she played the same players throughout the friendlies and the group games. They weren’t really given a break.
Another point was that she brought players to Sweden carrying injuries. Kelly Smith, Sophie Bradley and Karen Carney all had some sort of injury going into the campaign so that meant we could have had only 20 fit players going into the first game. For me she should have brought Natasha Dowie to Sweden because she was the top goal scorer in the women’s super league. Dowie has scored 10 in 12 games for Liverpool so far this season, so why wasn’t she given the chance.
All of this has raised one question, what is the future for Powell and England?
My view is that for Powell’s future she should stay on as manager because I think that she deserves the chance for what she has done for the women’s game. She has transformed an England side who struggled to qualify for tournaments into Euro finalists four years ago. I don’t see why after one bad tournament she has turned into a failure as a coach. I feel that when the time is right to move on, she should be given a different role in the FA to further develop the rise of women’s football.
For England, I think that they need to forget about their experience in Sweden and move on. It was just a few bad games, but that doesn’t make it a bad team. Remember the Italian men’s national team at the 2010 world cup, they finished bottom of their group and they reached the Euro final two years later. They should concentrate on qualifying for the World Cup in two years time and bring in some of the younger players into the starting eleven but also include that bit of experience to guide them.
As an England fan, I feel that all is not lost and that with the youngsters that are coming through we could be challenging for the World Cup in Canada. All the England coaching team and players have to do is believe in themselves more and the press needs to look at the positives and not focus on everything that could go wrong.
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