Chris Waddle does not believe England’s weakness at retaining possession will ever be resolved until attitudes towards children’s football changes radically.
Although Roy Hodgson declared himself satisfied with a 1-1 draw against France that was well received by both supporters and media alike, UEFA’s own statistics told a staggering story.
Fifteen efforts on target to one in favour of the French, who finished in excess of 600 passes compared to England’s 307.
Little wonder Scott Parker and James Milner looked exhausted as Hodgson’s midfield raced around in searing temperatures to deny France the room to exhibit their talents.
Yet such tactics, whilst fine against a team that has now extended its unbeaten run to 22 games, do not seem sustainable over the period of a six-game competition, which explains why any optimism around the England camp is being kept within a manageable framework.
Waddle is particularly agitated at the English failings in possession.
However, he does acknowledge the problem goes far deeper than one match under a new national manager.
Speaking at a fan event organised by England sponsors Vauxhall, the 62-times capped former international said: “We are not patient enough.
“It is not just the players, it is the fans. When you get the ball into a certain area, they anticipate you to get it into the box, not check back and keep it.
“You are speaking about educating an entire country, kids, coaches, fans and players. Until that happens, nothing will change.”
Waddle was present in the Donbass Arena last night to witness England’s battling display.
He knew, as did everyone present, that France looked more comfortable in possession, more willing to simply keep it rather than look for an opening at every opportunity.
“Our conveyor belt stopped after 1990,” he said.
“We had players who could get hold of a football and do something with it.
“Now we are relying on Wayne Rooney. Where are the rest?”
It is only last month that the Football Association introduced new rules for junior football aimed at improving standards.
From the begin of 2013-14, youth matches will be played with fewer players, on shorter pitches, with smaller goals over less time, a combination it is hoped will grant youngsters to develop their techniques.
Waddle is not convinced of their merits, mainly because the fundamental problem, he believes, that of a desire to win over any other consideration, is not being addressed.
“You have to let the children play, let them control the ball, dribble it, pass it. It is about having good habits,” he said.
“Unfortunately, parents are not interested. They just want to win.
“So much money has been spent on academies but I would get rid of them.
“Let the children play with their mates and stop them from going to a club until they are 13.
“By that time you know what they are good at and what they are not so good at and can work accordingly.
“At the moment, we do everything for them but we are ending up making robots, not football players.”
None of this is going to help Hodgson much over the next couple of weeks.
After landing in the early hours, England returned to their Krakow training base for a recovery session this morning.
That work will need to be good though because on Thursday, Hodgson and his players will be doing it all again when they head to Kiev for an encounter with a Sweden team who know they can’t afford to lose if they are to retain any interest in the competition.
Neither Parker nor Milner featured extensively for their club sides in the final weeks of the campaign, which could have contributed to their tiredness.
However, Hodgson will tread with caution, knowing changes are inevitable at some stage.
At least in Sweden, England are preparing to meet an opponent who play in a similar style to their own, even if Hodgson accepts patience in possession is an area of potential improvement.
“The one thing we need to do is build up our confidence so that when we get the ball into the final third maybe we will take that extra touch, or extra pass and be a bit more patient,” Hodgson told BBC Sport.
“It is not an English characteristic but when you reach this level of football you can get caught out a tiny bit if you do not do it.
“Then the counter-attacks can become very dangerous.”
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