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Roy Hodgson's team have looked uncomfortable defending a 1-0 lead and should not sit back against Ukraine

It has been an amazing 48 hours, travelling to Kiev for my first tournament as a pundit and hearing the official announcement about my MBE in the Queen's honours.

After all the doom and gloom predicted ahead of the Euros I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Ukraine. I certainly had some concerns about travelling there. Heading to the airport the day after the violence had erupted between Polish and Russian fans I asked myself the question: "Is it safe where I'm going?"

I suppose things felt that bit more unusual because it was the first time I was travelling to a tournament on my own. Usually I would be with England – a huge group of players and coaching staff as well as security guards and chaperones. So my initial thought was to just do my TV bit and then slope off back to my hotel. But in the end I decided to venture out for a look around the city, and it was fantastic.

Seeing the sights, soaking up the atmosphere in the street –it was the first time in my life that I could really talk openly with the fans. As a player you tend to feel that you should be guarded in what you say, so it was liberating stuff talking tactics and football opinion.

Being pitchside for my pundit's role was all a bit of a blur, two minutes of intense chat before the cameras whisked back to the studio. One of my biggest fears was not wanting to offend anyone in the football fraternity – that unwritten code of conduct we have – and consequently not having anything of interest to say about the game. I never wanted to get into the blame game because it just sounds bitter, but I've been pleased to discover that it's possible to be honest and analytical if you stick to the facts.

Analysing the goal that Petr Cech conceded against Greece the other day I was perhaps a little bit euphemistic in blaming his gloves. Robbie Savage thought that was a ridiculous excuse, but I stand by my theory and it's something I've complained about in the past, having to wear sponsor's kit that is actually detrimental to your game.

I was glad I had my Uefa "A" licence course under my belt; despite all my years in the game I don't think I had really spent much time analysing it before. Now I know all about "beating the block", "zone 14" and "compact defences".

I'm definitely getting into the punditry thing – it's a new challenge. I've almost got to rein myself in a bit because I still want to play football, I'm not yet ready to jump over the white line. The urge to play is definitely still there. I was stood pitchside when the ball came flying towards me during the warm-up and I had to physically stop myself from touching it.

Tactics-wise against France I thought Roy Hodgson had it spot on, two tight banks of four – he couldn't afford to let England be dragged out of shape because we would have been eaten alive. But on Friday night England looked very different, the gap between the back line and the midfield was too big; if Sweden had been cuter they could have exploited that and we would have been in big trouble.

In both games England have looked uncomfortable defending a 1-0 lead, which makes me think they really need to go into the game against Ukraine with a view to winning it. Roy will congratulate the players for the win but they will need to be very analytical about their failings. Chances are they could meet Spain in the next round and if England play the world champions with those kind of gaps in defence they will be ripped apart.

I almost didn't find out about my MBE. The letter had been sent to Bristol City, and unbeknown to me it was hidden in a pile of fanmail that I had left to sort through at the end of the season. Then one day I had a phone call from the House of Commons. I thought: "What have I done wrong?" They said: "You've got an MBE for services to football and charity. Will you accept it?"

The only condition was not being allowed to tell anyone, so for the past two months it's been my little secret.

I am chuffed to bits, I have to say. It makes you realise how many people have helped you along the way. On Friday night in Kiev I bumped into Graham Taylor, who was my manager at Watford many years ago.

I was 16 years old when he hauled me into his office and threatened to throw me out of the club for bad behaviour. If you don't have people like Graham Taylor keeping you in line at 16 you don't receive an MBE at 41. It is a very humbling thing.

David James has donated his fee for this column to charity Read More

هل تريد وضع المحتوى السابق فى موقعك او مدونتك مجانا؟؟
انسخ الكود التالى و ضعه فى موقعك او مدونتك.

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