Parker happier in relaxed squad
Win or lose their Euro 2012 quarter-final with Italy on Sunday, England midfielder Scott Parker believes his team-mates have managed to make the country fall in love with the national side once more.
The catastrophe in South Africa two years ago, following a failure to qualify for the previous European Championships, left England at a low ebb. That was followed by Fabio Capello's unscheduled exit in February and as they departed for their Krakow base, few held any hope for a decent showing.
Instead, they remain in contention. Unbeaten Group D winners, who now play an Italy side that is not regarded as amongst their finest. An impressive 18million watched the final group game against Ukraine, so many more can be expected to tune in on Sunday, as England fans start to believe again. Asked if pride had been restored, Parker said: "I think so."
He added: "Trust me, having the belief and support of everyone back home goes a very long way. You don't want to be surrounded by negativity, or reading things that aren't nice so it was fantastic to hear 18 million people watched on Tuesday. There's definitely a spirit inside the camp.
"As a nation that is what we are known for. Ultimately, that's our base. I'd like to think we have that base back."
Success is not going to be achieved with style though. If Hodgson's philosophy is not entirely based around stoic defending and nicking the occasional goal, it is how the style is tending to be perceived.
Xavi, Andres Iniesta and even Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo have no style worries from the English.
"Of course, when I watch the best in the world, it would be good to be like them," said Parker. "But how many other teams play like Spain? There aren't many are there? Barcelona? They're the best I've ever seen.
"You are what you are. We all need to recognise our own qualities and strengths.
"I'd be lying to say we couldn't do a bit better going forward, but we're still winning games. That's the most crucial thing."
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