ENGLAND are in danger of letting expectations get too high again just because they have drawn their opening match against France.The key for them is to build on a decent performance, particularly in the opening exchanges of that game, but take this competition stage by stage. They simply cannot have any grand plans when they are three fixtures into a new manager’s reign and with a squad so heavily depleted by injury and suspension.
If I was Roy Hodgson I would approach today’s clash with Sweden with the same strategy as he did against the French. I don’t think that is being particularly cautious – England were very good and looked dangerous in the first 15 minutes; it’s a question of keeping possession.
For that early spell against France they retained the ball well, got their creative players such as Ashley Young on the ball and carved out good opportunities. Once Laurent Blanc’s team got back into the game they lost confidence and struggled to reassert themselves after the equaliser, settling for defence.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did enough to keep his place, Young and Danny Welbeck need to hold the ball better and Steven Gerrard should not be needing to perform as many defensive duties. But England beat Sweden as recently as November 1-0 – if they can repeat that scoreline this evening they should be more than happy.
Trevor Steven is a former England international who now works as a talent scout and pundit.