England manager Roy Hodgson has pleaded for patience as the Three Lions take the first tentative steps towards being the team he expects them to be.
Although the reaction to Monday’s draw with France was largely positive, a vast discrepancy in possession was noted.
Laurent Blanc was evidently unimpressed from his sideswipe this evening, claiming if France “had played against a really good side” in Donetsk, they would have lost.
Against a significantly inferior Sweden outfit in Kiev tonight, far more is expected.
Hodgson understands the sentiment. However, he hopes the realisation he has spent only three weeks and four games into his new role helps temper the demand for excellence.
“One would hope people will be patient,” he said.
“I am satisfied with what I think we are achieving only three weeks into the job.
“Maybe I can’t satisfy everyone and other people would like to see more.
“I am realistic and pragmatic. Five, six or seven training sessions into the job we are making a fist of it.
“I am sure we will get better. Just a simple thing like the return of Wayne Rooney will make us into a stronger team and a bigger threat.”
Rooney is missing today, completing the final game of his two-match suspension.
It robs England of their talisman as they prepare to face a Sweden side whose hopes appear to rely on their own star man, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The phenomenon that Ibrahimovic has become is somewhat bizarre in that vast swathes of continental Europe rate the 30-year-old extremely highly.
In England, though, he is dismissed as massively overrated, largely due to a succession of woeful displays against the Premier League’s finest.
An incredible nine league titles in 10 seasons, with five different clubs in three countries – the two he secured with Juventus were revoked – reinforces the former argument.
It is one Hodgson, whose own knowledge of the European game and Sweden in particular is vast, tends to agree with.
“He is an iconic figure in Sweden, where they are very much in awe of him,” said Hodgson. “His career record is quite incredible.
“Maybe on one or two of the times he has come to England he had not succeeded when he has been built up to.”
As to his own team, Hodgson expressed “surprise” at midfielder Scott Parker questioning whether the qualities shown against France will be sufficient to win Euro 2012.
Parker was interviewed after the 1-1 draw in Donetsk and said: “The one thing we showed was a lot of heart and commitment.
“Whether that wins you tournaments, I don’t know.”
Hodgson defended the approach of his team which limited the chances created by France although England seldom posed a threat themselves.
He said: “I’m surprised Scott questioned how far it (heart and commitment) would take us.
“I can understand he said we showed a lot of heart and commitment but I thought he would have said that in a positive way. There is no doubt all tournaments are won by teams that are very well organised, very much together, very committed to the cause.
“We’ve seen many times in the past that teams that haven’t been at all fancied at the start have used these qualities to go far and sometimes win the tournament.”
Hodgson added: “I think we always show ambition when we play. We didn’t lack ambition in the last game but every game is different, every game poses a different threat.
“I’m hoping tomorrow we will have more of the ball in the important areas and hope we will pose a lot of questions for the Swedish defence.”
Hodgson also believes the England players are not lacking in technique compared to some of their rivals in the tournament.
He said: “I would definitely question any suggestitons that we are lacking in any way or our players are not technically good enough.
“The Premier League is regarded widely as a very good league and a very technical league and we have some of the best players in that league.”