• England

Hodgson hits back at Lineker barbs

ESPN staff
September 12, 2013
Roy Hodgson insists England put in a good performance against Ukraine in their drab 0-0 draw in Kiev

England manager Roy Hodgson has been left disappointed by Gary Lineker's public criticism of England during their goalless draw with Ukraine.

Hodgson's side struggled to keep the ball and create chances in Kiev as the match ended 0-0 to keep England's World Cup qualification hopes in their hands.

Hodgson admitted after the game that he had instructed his players to play a more direct game, in a bid to avoid losing the ball in dangerous areas.

He said: "Did we play longer balls forward early? Yes, we did. We didn't want to play out from the back and invite pressure."

But during the match former England international Lineker was critical of the performance, in particular the quality of the passing, which he branded "woeful".

Hodgson, though, has defended his players, with the team top of Group H after a 4-0 win over Moldova was followed by the hard-fought draw in Ukraine.

"I'm surprised anyone who has played for England, captained England and played in games of this nature can be that critical," he said.

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"This is the second time. My disappointment would be that I saw Gary Lineker play, I remember him captaining the team and playing some great games for England but I'm also pretty sure he played in some games when it wasn't that easy and I don't think every game he played for England was a total success.

"I try to placate most people but I'm afraid I've just seen a group of players missing seven first-team members beat Moldova 4-0 and come to Ukraine and draw 0-0. You can criticise us or praise us or do whatever you want to do but don't think you're going to put words into my mouth or get me agreeing with these opinions.

"I've been in football for 38 years and I will stick to my opinions. You can have yours, he can have his and anyone else can have theirs for that matter. This is the beauty of football.

"There are 60 million opinions out there but I will be surprised if I am walking down the street in the next few weeks and people aren't actually saying: 'You did well in those two games.' I'd be surprised. But we'll see."

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