Patience is a virtue as England expects

Euro 2012: Rotherham referee Howard Webb takes charge of the Italy v Croatia game last night
Euro 2012: Rotherham referee Howard Webb takes charge of the Italy v Croatia game last night

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.

French boss Laurent Blanc claimed 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 tomorrow, 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.

Hodgson said: “He is an iconic figure in Sweden. 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.