Euro 2016: 'Let's not praise England for possession, they were poor,' argues West Ham manager Slaven Bilic
West Ham manager and ITV pundit Slaven Bilic has criticised England for their inability to capitalise on possession and lack of creativity.
Speaking in the aftermath of England’s 0-0 draw against Slovakia on Monday night, Bilic attacked Roy Hodgson’s side who were frustrated by a compact and well-disciplined Slovakian side.
Bilic argued that England should not over emphasise their dominance as a whole within Group B given the quality of the sides they’ve faced and the tactics utilised by teams such as Russia and Slovakia.
Ján Kozák’s team made no real attempt to out-play England and sat deep for the entirety of the game as they chased down the 0-0 draw.
The West Ham boss said: “Let’s not praise for possession because [England] played against a team that didn’t to play. Of course you’re going to have more possession.
“But the quality of English reaction and action in the last third of the pitch was quite poor. Nobody tried to beat his own player or to do something to break the opponent who is defending with eight players.
“It shows like many good teams, like Germany, England are also struggling when there opponent is defending with numbers and they are hard to beat.”
The Croatian remained optimistic about the English side’s future in the tournament though. Bilic believes that opportunities will arise as and when England come against more attack-minded, possession-oriented sides who will afford Hodgson’s forwards the space they need.
Slovakia vs England ratings
Joe Hart – 6 out of 10
Had little to do until after the break. Strong punch on free-kick early in second period and was quick to get down for Weiss shot. Saved Smalling’s blushes, clearing loose ball as Mak closed in.
Nathaniel Clyne – 8 out of 10
Linked up well with Liverpool colleague Henderson to pressurise Kyle Walker. Surged forward at will all match and had shot touched over after cutting in.
Ryan Bertrand – 6 out of 10
Given chance on left but failed to impress as much as Clyne. Drew ire, and blood, of Pekarik with flailing arm and later booked for obstructing the same player.
Gary Cahill – 6 out of 10
Gave Hodgson a scare when he briefly stayed down injured but recovered quickly. Deflected Slovak effort clear and headed wide at the other end.
Chris Smalling – 6 out of 10
Like his Chelsea partner, had precious little to do for large parts of the evening. Nearly punished for leaving ball as Mak steamed in towards the end.
Eric Dier – 8 out of 10
One of the few ‘first-choice’ players to keep place from Wales game and performance showed why. Stood up well to Slovak attacks and screened defence with ease. Shooting could do with some work.
Jordan Henderson – 6 out of 10
Failed to make most of opportunity and struggled with final ball and set-piece. Had two shots deflected and played in Vardy but prone to running down blind alleys.
Jack Wilshere – 6 out of 10
Tidy in possession and quick to win the ball back but guilty of making the wrong choices too often. Not sure whether to attack or pass at times and could have done more to impress.
Adam Lallana – 7 out of 10
Set up Henderson chance and full of running down left side, although it came to little overall effect. Can be confident of keeping his place for Monday’s second round match.
Jamie Vardy – 7 out of 10
Sent chance straight at Kozacik in opening exchanges and was full of running, closing down defenders and giving his colleagues options. But again, no end product.
Daniel Sturridge – 5 out of 10
Earned start with goal against Wales but quickly showed why he has started on the bench more often. Displayed quick feet but, as the game wore on, became anonymous. Wasted best chance when a touch would have meant a goal.
Dele Alli – 7 out of 10
Tottenham livewire brought on for final quarter and almost scored within seconds, meeting Henderson cut back with shot that was blocked on the line by Skrtel.
Wayne Rooney – 7 out of 10
Brought on early in second half and injected more urgency and composure into England’s attacks, although even they became more desperate toward the end.
Matus Kozacik 7
Peter Pekarik 8
Martin Skrtel 8
Jan Durica 6
Tomas Hubocan 7
Robert Mak 6
Juraj Kucka 6
Viktor Pecovsky 7
Marek Hamsik 6
Vladimir Weiss 5
Ondrej Duda 6
“I’m positive because the next game the better the opponent is it’s going to be a more two-sided game,” he said.
“For England it is going to be better. I would be optimistic, not because of this game but in general.”
Bilic’s words could bring some comfort to fans – England have already showcased their ability to play and threaten against “better” sides as seen in their friendly against Germany when Vardy and Kane took full advantage of the space afforded to them within the German final third.
The ITV pundit also refused to criticise Roy Hodgson’s decision to make significant changes in his side’s final group fixture. He argued that the way in which England controlled the game as they had done in their previous two matches suggested that the introduction of six new players had not disrupted the English game plan as some had worried.
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