Peacock reflects on Euro exit
Thursday, 12 May, 2011
Head Coach proud of his players after reaching Europe's last four.
By Nicholas Veevers in Novi Sad.
John Peacock saw his team fall short at the semi-final stage of the Euros in Serbia, and whilst he felt his side didn’t quite reach the high standards he knows they can, the Head Coach admits he was still proud to lead them into the last four in Europe.
After winning the European U17 Championship last year, this season’s group of players had a lot to live up to in order to retain the title and they came close here. But they couldn’t quite breach a resilient Dutch side on Thursday and now head home as defeated semi-finalists.
“I’m very proud of the players,” said Peacock. “Even though we haven’t won today, they’ve kept going throughout the tournament. We tried to turn the screw a little bit in the second half but just didn’t get the chance.
“We’ve come through some tough qualification groups this season and the players have equipped themselves well in the tournament.
“We’ve been a bit up and down here, but to finish in the top four in Europe is a great achievement and I’m very proud of them.
“I didn’t think we played as well as we can play today, and that’s nothing against the Dutch as it was always going to be a close encounter.
“When it gets to the semi-final of these international competitions, the first goal can be quite crucial.
“After not playing too well in the first half, we thought that if we set about it better in the second with a bit more quality in our passing, then we might get that chance.
“It wasn’t to be though, so credit to the Dutch. They’ve been very close for many years now so maybe it might be their year this time.”
It was always likely to be a low scoring game given Holland’s strength in defence over the course of the tournament and that was how it proved with the Young Lions finding it hard to find a way past a strong and organised Oranje back-line.
“They are a very difficult team to beat and that showed today,” added Peacock. “They were very resolute and well organised, they like to attack you on the flanks and with their combination play through the middle, that was where the goal came from.
“We knew that would be one of their strengths but we didn’t quite deal with it.”
For now though, Peacock’s work goes on as he prepares to head to Mexico in the next few days for the draw of the FIFA U17 World Cup which England qualified for as a result of their performance in this competition.
He sees the opportunity to feature on the world stage as the next part of the squad’s development and is something he feels everyone is looking forward to and they can head there in June with confidence.
“I think we will perform well out there,” he added. “Hopefully we will get all of the players that we want.
“It’s the draw next week, so there’s not a long time to prepare but we’re looking forward to it immensely.
“One of the biggest experiences that these lads can get in a lifetime is playing at a World Cup and for their football education, it will be a massive learning curve.
“To play against teams from around the world is something that you don’t come across too often so we’re really looking forward to it.
“They have to live with the ups and downs, and potentially living together for three or four weeks. That’s something that is crucial if you want to work to become a top player.”