Daniel Gregory’s column: The times they are a changing under Roy

England's Wayne Rooney scores
England's Wayne Rooney scores

I could have written five or six columns with everything that has been going on in the sporting world over the past seven days.

David Nalbandian’s bizarre kick-out at a bewildered line judge at Queens, Nicklas Bendtner being fined £80,000 for revealing a company’s logo on his underwear, and of course the huge reaction to England’s 1-0 win over the Ukraine on Tuesday, securing them the top spot in group D and a quarter-final against Italy.

Roy Hodgson was 'satisfied' with England's draw against France and believes his side will improve

Roy Hodgson was 'satisfied' with England's draw against France and believes his side will improve

Don’t forget the unfortunate clash of heads between Scott Quigg and Rendell Munroe in Manchester on Saturday night, wrecking what would have been an intriguing contest.

But such was the magnitude of split opinion on the England team’s efforts so far in a compelling Euro 2012, my attentions will lie there.

How negative a nation must we be to finish top of a reasonably difficult group, yet still whinge and moan.

England have played three, won two, drawn one, and ended the group stages with the same number of points as the World champions Spain.

By no means am I saying we’re a better side than the Spanish, far from it, but give Roy Hodgson and his side a break.

I was one of many who initially questioned his squad selection, admittedly, but I am a huge fan of Hodgson and can’t remember liking an England manager this much since Glenn Hoddle back in 1998.

He has already shown superior man management, tactical and media relation skills than his predecessor Fabio Capello, and I have no doubt he will be getting paid less than half as much as the Italian did.

His team’s have always been resolute, organised and hard to beat, and this England side is no different.

Had this team not made it to the seemingly minimum expectations of the last eight, it would have made it hard work for Hodgson heading into the World Cup qualifiers.

But picture this Hodgson side, tough to beat and together as a unit, and add the guile of Jack Wilshere, the pace and work-rate of Kyle Walker, and the goalscoring nous of Darren Bent, and you have yourselves a decent outfit.

I for one am optimistic for the future, not daft to the point where I believe we are world beaters, but quietly, modestly, optimistic.

First point of call before Brazil in 2014 though, is Kiev and the Italians on Sunday.