SPORT TALK: Exit wasn’t heartache, it was justice

Not good enough: England skipper Steven Gerrard after the quarter-final loss to Italy in Kiev. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Not good enough: England skipper Steven Gerrard after the quarter-final loss to Italy in Kiev. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

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I SUPPOSE it wouldn’t be a major tournament without an England exit on penalties.

Usually it takes a few days to get the injustice or heartache out of my system, but Sunday night’s shoot-out defeat to Italy felt much different.

I’m as patriotic as they come when it comes to getting behind our side, but we just didn’t deserve anything from the quarter-final.

It was a very disappointing performance, with a couple of the big names – most notably the usually excellent Wayne Rooney – failing to turn up.

We afforded what, quite frankly, is a pretty average Italy side way too much respect and allowed the peerless Andrea Pirlo free rein in midfield. A recipe for disaster.

My first column before the tournament kicked off called for England to play defensively. I also said we should be prepared to stink the joint out.

Well, we certainly did both of those things. But what I didn’t account for is the total lack of creativity and technique shown by our side.

The way we lumped the ball up to Andy Carroll on Sunday was really embarrassing.

The damage was probably done before the Three Lions got on the plane to Poland and Ukraine, though.

Once Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry were ruled out, Roy Hodgson should have swallowed his pride and gone cap in hand to retired duo Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick.

I’d have done whatever it took to get them to play. We ended up with Jordan Henderson on the pitch in a major quarter-final. That’s unacceptable as far as I’m concerned.

The same applies to Micah Richards and Adam Johnson. Both should have been at the tournament. Average James Milner, who most fans wouldn’t even want in the squad, started every game. Once again, that’s scandalous for a nation of our standing in world football.

I still reckon Hodgson comes out of the tournament as a success – but I hope he moves away from archaic 4-4-2, and fast.