• Euro 2012

Wright: England not great and too negative

ESPN staff
June 12, 2012

Ian Wright has criticised England's "negativity" and has implored Roy Hodgson to "take the shackles off" and not inhibit the team's attacking instincts.

England got their Euro 2012 campaign off to a solid, if unspectacular, start, showing good discipline and resilience to hold Group D opponents France to a 1-1 draw.

Much of the reaction to the Three Lions' performance has been positive, but former Arsenal striker Wright feels the way the team played "was all about not losing, rather than winning".

He told the Sun: "I'd have to say we were okay but not great. I thought we could nick it 2-1 beforehand - but only if we had a different approach to the defensive way we played.

"Yes, we were hard to beat and that will continue to be the case with England under Roy. Yes, we knew France would have a lot of the ball, and we'd be frustrated at times. But the fact I could only see us scoring from a set piece pretty much sums up what we got.

"I have to say it was pretty negative, that was the over-riding feeling. Then again, I don't suppose I should have expected too much different, because that's how his teams tend to play - two defensive midfielders and the wingers tucked in. Can you win a tournament like that? I guess Italy would say so, but by and large it tends to be teams who go for it a bit more.

"We'd have all taken a draw beforehand, but for me it was just so frustrating that it was all about not losing, rather than winning."

England face Sweden on Friday, before completing their group fixtures against co-hosts Ukraine the following Tuesday, and Wright is hoping Hodgson takes a more risky approach by deploying captain Steven Gerrard in a more advanced role.

When asked how England should change things, he said: "Just take the shackles off a bit more and see where it takes us. No one expected us to win the Euros, so let's have a go. And make sure we use it as a learning curve for Brazil 2014, learn from our mistakes, and go there with a different vibe - to win, rather than not to get beaten.

"Get Stevie Gerrard playing further forward, where he can get the ball in to the likes of [Ashley] Young and [Danny] Welbeck and be in a position to take the return. There's no one you'd sooner see having a shot from 25 yards than Stevie and few midfielders can bomb into the box like he does.

"Leave Scotty Parker in front of the back four and let Stevie play how he does for his club. He's still one of the best attacking midfielders in the business - so let's give him the chance to prove it. So let's get at Sweden, get at Ukraine and take it from there. And if, in the end, we do go down, at least we can say we'll have gone down fighting."

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