Room for improvement
Saturday, 22 May, 2010
Decision-making must be better, insists Head Coach despite Euro progress.
UEFA European U17 Championship
By Glenn Lavery in Liechtenstein
For the second time in four years John Peacock has led an England side to the semi-final of the UEFA European U17 Championship, but said his players must improve their decision-making if they are to have any designs on winning the competition.
A 35th-minute header from Ross Barkley was enough to defeat a spirited Greek outfit in Vaduz, Liechtenstein and coupled with a 3-1 victory over Czech Republic on Tuesday, England can now look forward to a last-four berth with one Group B game to spare.
However, despite conveying pleasure at qualifying for the semi-final, Peacock believes his side have a few things to work on ahead of next Thursday’s showdown.
“I’m delighted that we have qualified for the semi-finals first and foremost,” said Peacock, who led England to the Final of this competition in 2007, where they were narrowly beaten by Spain.
“Could we have been better? Yes, I think we could have been. We are a little bit disappointed in some of our decision-making. But you have to give credit to the Greek team for pressurising us and giving us a few problems. So, I’m pleased on one part of it but, obviously, there’s room for improvement. If we are going to go on and try and win this tournament, which we are trying very hard to do, then we have to be a little bit better than [we were] but that’s not taking anything away from the Greek team. They were very good throughout.”
Much like they did against Czech Republic, England started the match on the front foot but Greece gradually grew into the game and began to ask questions of the England defence who were to prove impenetrable. Going forward, Peacock’s side were somewhat careless in possession and, although Barkley’s header, five minutes before the break, might have provided a platform to build an unassailable lead, the Young Lions were unable to fashion many clear-cut chances, a factor Peacock credits to Greece’s work ethic.
“I thought Greece worked very hard,” he said. “Everything about the Greek side was very passionate; good team spirit and [they] did work very, very hard and they did give our team a problem.”
As well as decision-making, Peacock also believes England need to be better when in possession, although he did praise his back four who were well organised and resolute throughout.
“Just generally, our attacking play needs to be tidied up a little bit,” he admitted. “I think we were a little bit sloppy with some of our passing. It’s usually one of our best qualities, that we do move the ball very well [and] we are comfortable in possession. But I just think the decision-making at the crucial times was not as good as it should have been.
“Having said that, I felt we defended very well. It’s very hard when it’s 1-0 to keep your concentration, particularly when you have lots of possession, but I thought we were very disciplined at the back and I have to credit the players in that respect. I thought they dealt with most things.
“[Now] we’ll have a bit of relaxation and then prepare very carefully and very professionally for the last [group] game against Turkey.”