Eliminated England don’t have delusions of grandeur – Boothroyd

Aidy Boothroyd denied England Under-21s have delusions of grandeur following their Euro 2019 nightmare and promised a complete review.

The Young Lions were dumped out of the tournament in the group stage following Friday’s 4-2 defeat to Romania in Cesena.

James Maddison and Dean Henderson both claimed afterwards England were better than Romania and France – despite losing to both in Group C.

Aidy Boothroyd
Aidy Boothroyd’s England Under-21s suffered an early exit from Euro 2019 (Nick Potts/PA)

But, ahead of Monday’s final game with Croatia in San Marino, boss Boothroyd defended his players and insisted self-confidence has not become arrogance.

“I honestly don’t think we have got delusions of grandeur. We know what we are,” said Boothroyd, who vowed he would not quit.

“They’re not daft, they will hurt and they do hurt. They will reflect and that will start today. We think we’re the best team but we’re going home, why?

“The important thing is we don’t brush anything under the carpet, we front it up and say ‘we might have played brilliantly and got ‘the best 20 minutes award’ but that doesn’t win you the trophy.

“With our lot, they’re not bad lads, they’re not over confident, they are young men who are finding their way in professional football.

“There might be a little bit of bravado but they are good lads and it’s not a case of wrapping them up in cotton wool.

“We have questions we need answered. I know, because I’ve worked with some of them for five years, if the question is asked they will not duck.

“Yes, we’ve got a talented pool but looking at the longer term this talented pool, to be the best they can be, need to have the experiences and straight talking.

“It’s not a question of pointing fingers and digging people out. It’s a question of ‘right, you play for England now’.

“As well as we have done these are key things we need to improve if we are going to get to the final stages of senior tournaments.”

Tammy Abraham
Tammy Abraham was on the scoresheet for England Under-21s but Romania ran out 4-2 winners (Nick Potts/PA)

The England youth teams have struggled since the Under-17s and Under-20s won their World Cups two years ago.

The Under-20s did not qualify to defend their title this year while a mixed age group came ninth at Toulon, where England had won the past three tournaments.

But Boothroyd insisted it is a natural lull given the amount of players who have been called up by him and senior boss Gareth Southgate.

He said: “I’m not sure it (2017) was an anomaly. I think you have to strive for that to get to the end of tournaments. I look at it like a club, the senior team is the most important.

“The reserve team coach – me – his job is to get players into that team and to try to win football teams.

“The Under-20s, Under-19s, Under-18s, because their players have done well their players have come up to me, Gareth has obviously taken the best players that he wants and he needs.

“A lot of thought goes into it. We have to push people and stretch them and think about the longer-term pressure.

“I have taken players into the Under-21s and because of that everyone is a little bit weaker but the system is stronger.”

Jadon Sancho
Teenager Jadon Sancho is part of Gareth Southgate’s senior England squad (Nick Potts/PA)

Boothroyd insisted he would not walk away having signed a two-year extension just last month and James Maddison backed him to stay on, as the forward believes he remains the right man.

Maddison said: “Yeah, definitely, he’s done brilliantly for me. He’s brilliant for the lads, a brilliant man and a very good manager. Sometimes that’s football, tournament football, knockout football.

“In the Premier League you can lose two in a row but then you win four in a row and you are alright, you are back on track. But you don’t get that luxury in tournament football, it’s cruel.

“If I think about it it’ll be brilliant for the likes of Phil Foden, Morgan Gibbs White, Ryan Sessegnon, Mason Mount in the future because they will have another campaign if still selected in the U21s.

“It’s a cruel lesson but one for them and myself for future tournaments. I think we have learned an awful lot.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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