Paul Parker

England must aspire to something better

Paul Parker

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I think England leave Euro 2012 with a sense of keen disappointment. Despite some suggestions to the contrary I think they underperformed, while the nature of the defeat to Italy leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

It was a footballing lesson from Italy in Kiev, but to be honest I think we have had a footballing lesson from Norway, Belgium, France, Sweden and Ukraine as well in some respects. We have been outpassed by every team we have played against under Roy Hodgson but everyone seems content to be outplayed, nick a goal and then say, 'oh, well it's all about winning'.

This took us through the group stage but it seems like quite a feeble thing to say to me. If it is just about winning then why doesn't everyone play the Chelsea way? We can bore the pants off everyone and no one will buy any tickets.

If it is just about winning then that will be the death of entertainment. Anyone can play like Chelsea. You don't need to pay a coach millions of pounds a year to set out a team to destroy. What's harder - painting a masterpiece or ripping it up?

England need to aspire to something else. Sitting deep and counter-attacking isn't bad per se - the Italians perfected it as an art for years - but you need the individual players to also add a bit of spice and we don't have that. The difference is between a player like Andrea Pirlo and a player like Scott Parker.

Parker runs around a lot, we get impressed by his yardage, yet how close was he to the ball? How often did he get forward and be a menace? If he ran less and used his head more he would achieve more.

If we are running for running's sake then why not get Robbie Savage an English passport and get him to play for us? After Pirlo's brilliant night people are saying we should have played Paul Scholes at the Euros, but everyone was sitting so deep, who would he have passed to? There was no one making any forward runs. Zinedine Zidane couldn't have done anything in that side. We are struggling.

In the record books it will show 0-0 after 120 minutes and that England only lost to Italy on penalties. People can console themselves with that but it doesn't tell the whole story of the game. In theory, I am quite pleased we didn't win on penalties because somewhere along the line we would have forgotten about the nature of our performances building up to the competition and in the early stages of the competition.

There are a number of factors that contribute to Italy playing us off the park, but I don't think the fact that people are still living off a distant history - that win in 1966 - helps at all. That also feeds into the attitude that 'a win is a win', but we have to get away from that. We all want to be proud, we want to have a winning team, but that can't be the only goal. Look at the Dutch at the World Cup two years ago - they reached the final, but at what cost?

You need a strong identity based around an attractive style. That in itself brings high standards. Germany have been one of the best teams at the tournament but their desire for self-improvement saw them drop Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller for the game against Greece. They have standards.

Meanwhile, we are accepting any old slop because we just want a result. But that isn't how it works with the top sides. A club like Liverpool wouldn't accept playing in Chelsea's style and we have to be like that as a country as well. We have to have that aspiration. The only way that is going to be done is to instil that attitude at a young age.

Sunday's defeat to Italy proved that England need a new identity and a new style, but performances under Roy Hodgson do not suggest he is the man to oversee this kind of change.

The priority when we start the campaign for World Cup qualifying should be to bring through younger players but the instinct to secure results will probably take over and that can only be a bad thing for the national side.

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