Back in the European Championships in 2012, you could understand why Roy Hodgson went for the slightly cautious approach especially against Italy. He was new to the players, there wasn’t enough time to implement his ideas and that was seen as the best way to get anything from the tournament. However, two years later England need to show adventure if they want to progress and even it means failure it will give the fans more hope for the future.
Like many have already pointed out, England will start with a 4-2-3-1 formation which is the right move so long as they play with plenty of attacking intent. Using a similar system to Liverpool, they should interchange that front quartet to keep defenders on their toes and allow them to play with the freedom that will create opportunities. Two solid, hard-working central midfielders will be a great foil to that, with one willing to join in and it will mean that the team will never risk too much at any stage.
In terms of personnel they should go for the players in form and that would present the most danger to other teams, which should mean the choice of Raheem Sterling over Danny Welbeck. He’s been impressive this season for Liverpool, fits slightly better in the formation and his pace will worry the opposition but make no mistakes, Welbeck is a good option to bring on if things aren’t going well.
Jordan Henderson should also start on form and the way he plays over Jack Wilshire who ended the season a little poorly. Whilst Wilshire is probably the better passer, that role is already allocated to Steven Gerrard and Henderson is good enough in more areas of his game to justify selection.
The only worry for the squad is that should Gerrard pick up an injury or struggle with the rush of games as there isn’t a ready-made replacement in the squad. That was shown the most in the game against Ecuador, neither Wilshire nor Frank Lampard showed that they can play as that reserved midfielder and if the captain was to pick up a knock or a suspension, the omissions of Gareth Barry and Michael Carrick will look more suspect.
Adventure is needed because England need to win and win early to get through this sticky group. Should they show that and succeed, they will cause teams problems throughout the knockout stage and no one will really want to play them. It’s much riskier to play safe because should they fail that way, the ire of the fans will descend and Hodgson’s head will be on the block.