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The Scotland coach Craig Brown
discusses England's exit with fans on Radio 5 Live's Nicky Campbell show
 real 28k

Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
England face up to crisis
Fans upset
Misery all round as England crash out
England head home from the European Championships with the national game in crisis - and that's according to the coach Kevin Keegan.

Four years ago the focus was on whether we could take penalties, but now it has changed to whether we can play at all.

Keegan admitted: "You cannot spend 60 minutes in each of your three matches chasing the ball, chasing the game and expect to succeed at this level.

"We know our strengths - passion and commitment - but they alone are not enough. You have to be able to pass a football and show some invention.

"We have to ask if we can pass it better and control a game. The answer in this tournament is sadly we couldn't. We just weren't good enough to win."

Outplayed

Keegan was heavily criticised after Portugal hit back from 2-0 down to win the first group match 3-2, mainly due to their five to four advantage in midfield.

England were also outplayed in midfield by Germany and Romania, who had the lion's share of possession in each match.

We had a plan for Romania and talked for three days about passing the ball better, but we never did that.

Kevin Keegan

Keegan seemed to be saying that the problem was not so much with his tactics, as with the players' inability to adjust to a game plan.

He said: "We had a plan for Romania and talked for three days about passing the ball better, but we never did that.

"I said to the lads that you can't ask yourselves to play like that in this heat against these quality sides and squander possession so easily.

Doubts

"And when we were being over-run in midfield, the truth is I didn't have much variety available on the bench. I could have swapped type for type, but that's about it."


Shearer
Alan Shearer is consoled after defeat in his swansong
Keegan did not confine his criticisms to the players and seemed to raise serious doubts about his own ability to do the job.

He said: "As a squad, we didn't get anywhere near our peak and I take responsibility for that.

"I never got out of the team the performances they are capable of."

He added: "I have not set the world on fire so far with my management skills but I still hope to get the opportunity to do that in a World Cup.

To sum up, in Keegan's own words, we have a team whose strengths are "honesty and integrity" rather than the skill, technique and ability of the likes of France or Holland.

Unbalanced

We have players who cannot stick to a game plan and a coach who cannot get his ideas through to them.

There is not enough variety in the squad to change the pattern of the game from the bench.

And there is an almost complete absence of international quality left-sided players, leaving England weak and unbalanced on that wing.

Add to that the self-analysis the widespread criticism of Keegan's tactics, particularly the failure to match opponents in the number of players committed to midfield, and the imminent international retirement of a number of very experienced players, and the picture of a team in crisis is complete.

Perhaps the only saving grace is that World Cup qualifying group rivals Germany are even worse.

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See also:

21 Jun 00 | Sportstalk
Where does Keegan go from here?
20 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Keegan refuses to make excuses
21 Jun 00 | England
Blame us, says Owen
20 Jun 00 | Sportstalk
Where did England go wrong?
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