Football

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Gerrard: England must improve

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Steven Gerrard is hoping a youth football coaching revolution will help England solve their possession problem after their Euro 2012 exit.

Roy Hodgson's side struggled to keep the ball at this summer's tournament - only Greece and Ireland had less possession - before they crashed out on penalties at the quarter-final stage to Cesare Prandelli's Italy.

But Gerrard is hopeful that his side's inability to keep hold of the ball will be solved by new coaching methods - and the sooner, the better.

"The education of the young kids is vital," said Gerrard. "But I hope it doesn't take 10 years. I hope we're good enough to improve and bridge the gap with these big teams before that."

Against Italy, England were powerless to stop Andrea Pirlo and the rest of Prandelli's midfield from dictating the tempo of the match, and Gerrard is hopeful that a renewed effort to encourage youth coaching can help address the problem.

The imminent opening of St Georges Park, the FA's new coaching centre of excellence, will help, and the facility is designed to rival Europe's top academies, with the eventual goal of aiding England's quest to finally overcome their major tournament hoodoo.

The coaching centre opens this autumn, while England begin their World Cup qualification campaign for Brazil 2014 against Moldova on September 7. Roy Hodgson's side first contest a prestige friendly against Euro 2012 conquerors Italy on August 15, and their first home qualification match is against fellow Group D opponents Ukraine on September 11.

But looking to the long-term, the England captain is banking on a new philosophy for his side - one which stresses the importance of retaining possession rather than frittering it away, and one that gives the Three Lions the best possible chance of success in the future.

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Topics:
Football
Championship
Steven Gerrard

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