They may not have blazed a
message across the centre of Krakow on Thursday, but England's
Euro 2012 squad articulated a new mood is abroad on the eve of
Dismissed as no-hopers by many of their own media and
supporters, quickly adjusting to a new manager and weakened by
injuries and controversial omissions, this 'new' England have
brought to Poland a refreshing sense of honesty and humility in
place of what often, in the past, was seen to be arrogance and
Yet, as they should be for a team ranked sixth in the world
and third in Europe by FIFA, they remain as confident and
determined as any squad before them.
"We're all hungry guys," said goalkeeper Joe Hart, 25, the
first player to face reporters at Thursday's news conference.
"We're all successful at football and that's what we want... we want success. We don't want to go out there thinking people
won't mind if we lose, we can go home, we can go on holiday and
no-one will care.
"We have high expectations [of ourselves] otherwise there's
no point in us being here. We've come to win, we've come to do
well. We've come to represent our country and we want to make
Both Hart and winger Stewart Downing attributed much of the
players' sense of ease and confidence to new manager Roy
Hodgson, 64, appointed on May 1 in succession to interim coach
Stuart Pearce, following the resignation of Italian Fabio
Capello in February.
After the 'fortress of silence' mentality created by Capello
at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, Hodgson has
introduced an easier-going mood and a sense of transparency.
"He wants to hear what we have to say and he is very open to
feedback from us," said Hart. "That does not mean we believe we
can go and do our own thing, but he is open to suggestions and
"But we all know that at the end of the day, he's the
manager and what he says goes."
Unexpectedly, and refreshingly after years of media-trained
regulation answers from England players, Hart spoke with a real
sense of purpose and no sense of hype.
That, despite the sad return of striker Jermain Defoe to
England, following his father's death, injected optimism
following a morning training session in which everyone else
played a full part.
"The mood is good, the training centre is all there and is
excellent and we all believe in ourselves," added Hart
"I've been really happy thus far in training and in the game
That sense of well-being, shared by Downing, may also be due
to England's new approach to where they stay - after the rural
isolation of a spartan sports centre two years ago, they are in
the newest boutique hotel in Krakow's old town, the Stary, 20
metres from the ancient market place.
According to the players, Hodgson has encouraged them to
leave the hotel and go out for a stroll, to mingle with the fans
or drink a cup of coffee - something unimaginable in the
"It's nice," said Downing. "We feel good and confident and
we feel that playing France [on Monday] is a great opening game
for us. We are confident we can get a result."
England travel to Donetsk in Ukraine on Sunday to meet
France on Monday in their opening Group D fixture before playing
Sweden, in Kiev, and then Ukraine in Donetsk.
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