• World Cup qualifiers

Hodgson baffled by England criticism

ESPN staff
September 11, 2013
Roy Hodgson praised the resilience of his England defence following their 0-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying draw away to Ukraine on Tuesday

Roy Hodgson has insisted he is "happy" with England's 0-0 draw in their World Cup qualifier against Ukraine despite heavy criticism of the performance.

England are a point clear at the top of Group H after holding their most serious rivals to a goalless draw and, as they prepare to conclude their campaign with home games against Montenegro and Poland, they know their fate is in their own hands.

However, although few doubted the importance of the point, there was a sense of dissatisfaction with the manner it was achieved as England struggled to retain possession or carve out chances. Former England striker Gary Lineker, writing on Twitter, was among the most vocal critics, describing the passing as "woeful".

He also made a sarcastic reference to the Three Lions' chances of troubling the world's elite in Brazil next summer.

Hodgson, though, said he was surprised to hear there had been a negative reaction to the match.

"I am happy," he said. "I cannot comment on what people think at home, but I don't think that is a fair comment on our performance. If the expectations upon us are now so great we come to places like Ukraine and are expected to roll teams over, it will be difficult for us ever to get a good result.

Lay off Hodgson - at least for now

England boss has come under fire © Getty Images
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"I will stick to my ignorance. I think it is a good result. I am surprised that has not been the reaction back at home. Who are we talking about? There are 60 million people back there. I find it a difficult one to answer. Before coming here, the feeling among you people was that a draw would have been a good result. So I am surprised to hear people say that what I thought was a good performance has become underwhelming yet again."

Hodgson pointed to the fact that Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge had been ruled out through injury and Danny Welbeck -- who scored twice in the 4-0 victory over Moldova on Friday -- was suspended.

"Our options, attacking-wise, were limited as three of our top strikers were not available," he said. "We had a top player in [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain also unavailable.

"I thought the players who took their place did a remarkable job. We knew with 70,000 people here and the Ukraine team in good form, after recent results, it would not be easy and I am pleased with way we dealt with it."

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