ENGLAND may be riding the crest of a wave ahead of tomorrow’s Euro 2012 quarter-final with Italy, but Dave Whelan feels the Three Lions are destined to once again come up short in a major tournament.
Two wins and a draw from their three pool games saw Roy Hodgson’s men qualify for the knockout stages as Group D winners.
That’s earned them a last-eight showdown with Italy, who haven’t exactly pulled up any trees so far in qualifying second from Group C.
In stark contrast to the mood at the beginning of the competition, there’s a quiet confidence around the England camp that they can see off the Azzurri to make the last four. However, Whelan insists reaching the semi-final would be the absolute limit of England’s ambitions.
“Realistically, we can’t win it, no,” he told the Evening Post. “I just don’t think we’re good enough, across the board.
“If we manage to get through to the semi-finals, though, I feel we’ll have done really, really well.”
Even that would represent relative success, given the fact the squad was written off as no-hopers before it had left English soil.
Whelan, though, never subscribed to that ‘doom-and-gloom’ outlook pre-tournament. “I always thought we’d get out of the group. We’re not that bad,” he argued.
“You look at Germany and Spain, though, and they’re head and shoulders above the rest.
“But we’re in that next group below that level, and we’re still in there.
“England players always fight. They’ve done that so far this tournament, and let’s hope we can keep on doing that.”
Whelan also believes England’s impressive performances fully vindicate the decision to replace Fabio Capello with an Englishman, Roy Hodgson, in the lead-up to the Euros.
“I’ve always thought we’d be better off with an English manager for the England team,” Whelan added.
“I really never saw any sense in getting a foreign manager in to manage our national side.
“Communication is massively important in any football team – the attitude in the camp and the way they are with each other.
“Roy obviously thinks like the players are thinking, and he knows what they are looking for, when they need to rest and so on.
“Having an English manager like Roy is already showing to be the right decision, and it’s definitely the way forward.”
Latics boss Roberto Martinez has been at Euro 2012 as an ITV pundit.