Andy Ritchie: England must build on their momentum and beat Slovakia
I WAS PLEASED for Roy Hodgson that England managed to get past Wales on Thursday afternoon as for me, I think that overall when looking at his time in charge, he has done a great job.
Roy called it right with his changes and the introduction of Jamie Vardy and Danny Sturridge came up trumps.
I know he gets criticism sometimes with the way he is portrayed, by all accounts he is one of the blokes who – despite many people thinking he cannot give a rollicking out – he can do.
I have spoken to people who know him and they say that he can give a right volley out if needs be. Maybe you don’t think that looking at him, but he clearly can and he inspired a response from us against the Welsh in Lens.
Now we are in a good position and need now to use the momentum to go and beat Slovakia on Monday. They are a decent side, but we need to take the form we showed versus Wales into the second half against the Slovakians in St Etienne.
We shouldn’t just settle for the draw. We need to make a statement to other European teams that we are a force to be reckoned with. Once you get a bit of momentum, you need to build upon it.
Even looking at the first half in Lens, which saw us go behind, I still thought we were the better side. But it was just a relief that we got over the line. Brilliant.
Wayne Rooney was a positive again for me and Kyle Walker was also very hot down the right-hand side.
Rooney has obviously been moved to a deep-lying midfield role and that for me is where he should now play. I think that is his best position now at this stage of his career and where he offers the most. Hopefully, he will agree with me!
With his position, he can still get into the box and make an impact.
There was a lot of criticism that Roy kept the same team against Wales from the Russia game with Raheem Sterling starting.
But let’s remember that we played pretty well against Russia for the most part and should have beaten them. We would have done if we had taken our chances.
The Wales game was massive. If we had drawn, we would have had to beat Slovakia and they look a decent side and it would have been a real pressure game. We needed to beat Wales and we did and overall, I thought we were fantastic. Substitutions are key in many games as are late goals. Look at France the previous day against Albania with Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet coming good for them and helping them get through in stoppage time.
How many times have we seen that in international tournaments with teams over the years with the likes of Germany and others like that? Sometimes, it is just about finding a way, however you do it. After beating Wales, have we finally broken the spell? I am not going to say yes yet, though!
Fair play to Roy though, he was bold at half-time in his changes and that has laid a platform and hopefully we will get through to the quarters now and then it depends who we get. We are a young side and you can see that and we need to get some more momentum. The players were a little bit nervous in the first half against the Welsh and the heads dropped when their goal went in.
I know a lot of criticism has been aimed at Joe Hart after failing to deal with Gareth Bale’s free-kick from distance. But I wouldn’t be critical of him as Joe has been fantastic for England.
All right, it was a mistake. But over his time with England, he has been brilliant and people should not have a go at Joe and everything will work out for him.
Yes, if we hadn’t have won, he would have been disappointed. But we shouldn’t forget that he has been awesome for us over a period of time.