Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)


Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)


Article excerpt

EXPECTATIONS Where a quarter-final exit would once have been considered an unmitigated disaster, England head to Brazil knowing the last eight would be an acceptable return for a team in transition.

Roy Hodgson may have endured some criticism in qualifying -- most notably for the dull and sometimes desperate 0-0 draw against Ukraine -- but England finished unbeaten and top of their group before naming a youthful squad brimming with potential.

However, last week's friendly win against Peru and Wednesday night's draw against Ecuador provided an accurate representation of where England are -- vulnerable to a team counterattacking with purpose, lacking speed and incision in possession and reliant on set-pieces or moments of individual brilliance to prosper in the final third.

Much will depend on whether Hodgson can engender a club-style to England's play.

Wayne Rooney must finally deliver at a major tournament, England must cope with the humidity and their young players must take to the international stage with the same ease as they did in the Premier League.

There are plenty of questions to answer.

FA chairman Greg Dyke may have made a throatslitting gesture when the draw was made but Hodgson will hope this is not quite the execution some anticipate.

A tough group reduces England's margin for error but a potential last-16 clash against Colombia, Ivory Coast, Greece or Japan offers hope.

The likelihood of a quarter-final against Spain, Brazil or Holland may prove a step too far.

COACH The goodwill that carried Hodgson into Euro 2012 has largely endured, despite the often soporific Wembley friendlies. His pragmatism and media-friendly style is perfectly suited to life after the socalled 'golden generation' and the period of introspection that was instigated by Dyke's England committee.

Described as "old school" by many of the current squad -- in a complimentary way -- Hodgson will ensure England are well organised but critics sometimes translate that as "overtly cautious". …

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