Roy Hodgson: Good times ahead for England despite Sweden defeat
Roy Hodgson predicted a successful 2013 for England despite signing off this year with a 4-2 defeat in Sweden.
Last Updated: 15/11/12 9:22am
A visiting side featuring three debutants from the start - and three more from the bench - ran into an inspired Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose four goals featured a last labelled "a master work" by the England manager.
But Hodgson, who lost a game in 90 minutes for the first time since his appointment, took plenty of encouragement from a friendly game his side were winning 2-1 before a series of second-half changes.
He told Sky Sports News: "I've got to say it was a very good performance for long periods.
"It's disappointing to lose, especially after 2012 when we haven't really lost that many, but if we're going to lose a game it's probably better to do that with the team we had.
"So many players were getting experience, feeling their way into the national team. Me and my coaching staff learned an awful lot today about a lot of players, and a lot of the things we learned were very positive.
"I thought the centre-backs - Steven Caulker and Gary Cahill - did very will for us. Glen Johnson and Leighton Baines were their usual very very good selves, and I thought Leon Osman actually was surprisingly good.
"Danny Welbeck was excellent at centre-forward and it was good to see Jack Wilshere back in an England shirt looking very assured for 25-30 minutes.
"Probably the biggest plus was to see Steven Gerrard playing so well, dominating the game on what was his 100th appearance for the country.
"With players at home coming back into reckoning we're looking forward to a bright 2013. This was the Sweden team that drew 4-4 with Germany recently and I thought for long periods we didn't just match them, we had the better of the game."
Hodgson was also quick to defend Joe Hart. Mistakes have crept into the Manchester City goalkeeper's game of late and that spilled onto the international scene in Stockholm.
Hart made two minor errors at the Friends Arena, in addition to two major ones, the last of which allowed Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score his stunning fourth goal.
"We are not bothered about Joe Hart," stated Hodgson. "He is a very good goalkeeper.
"We think we will have a lot of success with him in the goal even if tonight it wasn't maybe one of his best days, this happens in football."