Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray is annoyed but not surprised by the criticism of Roy Hodgson’s young England side after a frustrating 0-0 draw with Slovakia last night saw them progress from the group stages.
Murray believes this young side could still make the last four but fears for them with the media, pundits and a section of the fans itching to put the usual boot in on their efforts.
Slovakia, happy with a point, shut up shop and defended their box superbly with England dominating possession and so unlucky not to grab a winner.
However, as soon as the game was over, with England safely through with Wales, the criticism started.
“I just think it sums England up in terms of what we do,” said Murray. “We build people up and then we love knocking them down.
“You look at the England performances and, for me, they’ve been really really good.
“You have gone into an international tournament, dominated three games, not scored the goals you want, but teams have been defending for their lives. England have never done that in a tournament.”
He added: “I listened to some of the pundits last night and some of them have played at the top level, been there and done it, and I just think, wow, you are talking some doo-doo.
“You look at some of the performances we’ve put in and it’s been really good.
“Even at our own level, which is a minor level compared to that, you do come up against teams that don’t want to move out the box and it’s tough to break them down.
“If England keep performing the way they are and do come up against teams that have to go and win and not solely defend the goal, it will suit us better.
“I think that showed when we played Germany a few months ago. That was one of the best performances I’ve seen from an England team.
“I am really confident in the England boys. They are young and, when they went into it, everyone was saying we lacked a bit of experience.
“But you know what I’m like with that. I think this is a young man’s game and the boys have gone over there with no fear.
“It’s like ourselves. I call it the ‘dirty thirties’ because we just don’t care. We just get stuck in. We are hungry for success.
“The England boys over there are exactly the same – they don’t care.”
With Leicester City’s Premier League hero Jamie Vardy now firmly in the international spotlight, Murray believes it won’t be long before he is verbally savaged too.
“It’s interesting now to see the English media and people deal with this situation again,” he said.
“I read something about Vardy the other day. The press have built him up to be the ‘man’s footballer’ because he drinks Red Bull and doesn’t do weights.
“For me this story is just one where they are waiting to build him up and knock him down again. It will be interesting. We have this habit of putting people up there and chopping their heads off.”
Murray now believes England can get past the next two hurdles and make the semi-finals which should see Roy Hodgson remain in his post.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s been a really successful tournament for them - the squad we’ve got, the age they are, and the ideas they’ve got - and I think we will do well,” he said.
“Otherwise, I think there’s probably only three teams that I’ve looked at and gone – you’re exceptional.
“I think England will make the final four which will keep Roy in a job – which is brilliant.
“I like him. I think he’s very focused on the way he wants to do things. He moves with the times. The changes he has made in the games shows he is very flexible and he’s been in the game a long time.
“He will know better than me, but it’s hard to do when you’ve been in the game that long as a manager and you’ve got your ways of doing things. He is still changing after all the years he’s been in it.
“The best part of the tournament for me so far was when Gary Neville ran down the touchline and jumped in with the lads. You don’t see that passion any more.
“I have been surprised by the tournament to be honest with you – the amount of passion that’s been shown, not just by the England boys but by a lot of the countries, I haven’t seen for a long time and it’s really good to watch.”