By En Lim | Goal.com Singapore
Another international tournament, but the story remains the same - the English national team lives up to expectations with an underwhelming performance once again.
Is there any surprise? Not really I suppose. It is indeed never a good time to be an England supporter.
Against a French side now on a 22 match unbeaten run under current coach Laurent Blanc, England was lucky to have come away with a 1-1 draw in what was expected to be their toughest group game. A precious point earned if they were to progress to the next round of the competition. A sigh of relief for the Three Lions.
Playing with a 4-5-1 formation with a frontline led by a youthful Danny Welbeck, Roy Hodgson’s team effectively employed the “park the bus” tactic, which served English side Chelsea supremely well in their Champions League Final win just a few weeks back.
First coined by Jose Mourinho, the footballing definition of “park the bus” effectively means to play defensive football in order to deny the opposing team from scoring; and this was exactly what England did in Donetsk last evening, as they frustrated the French by holding on to dear life for a single point.
Frustrating the French the most were Joe Hart and Scott Parker, the only bright sparks in the match for England.
Goalkeeper Hart made several vital saves that kept his country in the game from Alou Diarra and his clubmate Samri Nasri, but was unfortunate not to have been able to stop the French equaliser. Hart’s performance overall was first class, and his teammates will have to thank him for securing a point.
And if Joe Hart singlehandedly saved England’s blushes, Scott Parker was the bulldog terrier that did all the dirty hurrying and scurrying to keep his team’s hopes alive in the match. He was literally the English bus parked in the centre of the field to stop France at all cost.
Many headlines will be about the peach of a cross from Parker’s midfield partner, Steven Gerard. With England, it is always going to be about Gerard anyway, as he is England’s captain and blue-eyed boy.
But Parker’s work-rate and desire to die on the pitch for his country was plain for all to see. He was tremendous in winning the ball in vital areas of the pitch and cleaning up the mess created by his teammates. It is a pity he is not 100% match fit, but the English side is definitely a better one because Parker is in it.
The underwhelming nature of the performance is perhaps best underlined by the lack of shots on goal for England. A measly three shots as compared to 19 shots taken by the French, and their one single shot on target was the goal scored by Joleon Lescott. It will indeed be a surprise if the Three Lions roars its way to glory in Euro 2012 if it continues to employ such defensive tactics.
In football terms, the only way to win is to score. Right now, the Three Lions are whimpering more than roaring in Euro 2012, and if they continue to adopt this “park the bus” tactic in the remaining matches, once again the English team will live up to expectations by underperforming in yet another international competition.