England manager Roy Hodgson has refused to criticize Chelsea’s Ashley Cole and Manchester United’s Ashley Young for missing the penalty kicks that cost the nation an opportunity to progress to the Euro 2012 semifinals.
Instead, the Three Lions’ boss has congratulated his team for an overall display that ended in a respectable manner with no actual defeat after 120 minutes of goalless football against a gritty Italian side.
Given that England won Group D with an unbeaten showing in their three group stage matches, Hodgson believes it is completely justified to remind his team that they should keep their heads just as high as the winners.
“Anyone can miss a penalty. They were not nonchalant. Ashley Young’s smashed against the bar and Ashley Cole’s was well saved by Gianluigi Buffon,” Hodgson stated in defense of the unfortunate duo.
The manager added: “A player’s reputation should not be forged on a penalty shoot-out, their reputation should be forged on the four games and in those four games we have not lost.”
In the aftermath of England’s Euro 2012 elimination, there has been widespread debate about the approach of the team’s players in the quarterfinal.
While many members of the Italian squad accused the Lions of parking the bus and waiting for the shoot-out, others – led by England players themselves – have argued that they left it all out there until suffering an unfortunate elimination on spot-kicks.
Hodgson, for one, believes there are no commitment issues whatsoever with the team he recently inherited and urged the traditionally skeptical critics of England’s work ethic to stay patient.
“We stuck to our guns right until the end and the players should be very proud of what they did. I have learnt a lot about the players and their determination and dedication to the task and the fact they are so keen to play for England,” the former Fulham, Liverpool, and West Bromwich Albion manager concluded.