Following two defeats at the group stage, England have been eliminated from the European U21 Championship in Czech Republic.
Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland, who was beaten three times as Gareth Southgate's England Under21 side suffered their second loss of the tournament on Wednesday – with Italy proving too strong – has seen his quotes on a frustrating exit covered by the Daily Mirror.
The side returns home from Czech Republic on Thursday after a disappointing tournament and things are starting to feel a bit too similar to the senior team when the Young Lions compete in international competitions.
It's not as if England haven't got the quality to go further in these tournaments. On paper they are strong, but something is lacking - be it managers being naive or using the wrong tactics.
The first point of call for the FA if often to sack the manager in question. That is not always the right answer and Butland says Southgate is the right man to lead England forward at youth level, despite flopping at the latest U21 event.
“It hurts massively," Butland told the Mirror.
"Your pride gets shot and it is difficult to swallow. We have bowed out of a tournament that you have felt your team is capable of doing good things in. It hurts massively. I’m devastated. Gutted.
“You ask questions: Could it have gone either way against Portugal? Could we have scored more against Sweden? You can’t think of those things. Should we have been better here? Yes we should.
“Did we have chances? Yes, we have created chances again. Were they really that good that we couldn’t have kept them out? I don’t think they were.
“A two minute period against Italy cost us our tournament and left us too much to do.”
When England's senior side were knocked out of the World Cup last summer at the group stage, there were serious question marks hanging over Roy Hodgson's head. The former Liverpool boss took risks in the competition and invested a lot of faith in youth, which should be admired rather than criticised.
The hope now is that the young players Hodgson gave opportunities to will be more experienced and better prepared when England next compete at that level (European Championships, World Cup etc). Being eliminated before the knockout rounds cannot be accepted again.
All of a sudden England appear to be putting emphasis on a passing game, but Butland believes they need to be more ‘ruthless’ in order to be effective.
He added: “Playing this way is the right way. But you still have to be ruthless. You still have to know when to go long or shut up shop and take the pressure.
“I know it is hurting the manager more than anything. He has been through everything as an England player. It hurts him, it hurts us all.
“Without a doubt he (Southgate) is the right man to take them forward.”
It is always refreshing to see footballers come out and publicly back their managers after disappointments. A lot of views on football nowadays could be considered knee jerk, and that's not a proactive mindset to have when discussing anything seriously.
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