Tag Archives: Danny Rose

England Analysis: Hodgson’s negative substitutes stunted solid display


Rooney worked well in the midfield and was the impressive heartbeat of the team. Source: Daily Star

As usual in tournament football, supporting your team can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride and yet again, England did not fail in getting the heart pumping. It was a bitter pill to swallow in the end but not one England cannot come back from and while there were plenty of good moments, there are issues that need to be fixed.

Starting with the positives, England overall put in a strong performance. They controlled the game and possession, limiting Russia to scraps for long periods of the game and even though there was not enough clear cut opportunities, they did create some chances at goal.

Wayne Rooney was great in the midfield, controlling the pace of the game and creating the big diagonals that spread the Russians thin, putting them under great pressure. Both Danny Rose and Kyle Walker were excellent too, working down the flanks to support the forward play as well as earning their keep by tracking back.

Eric Dier also showed his importance to the team with the man of the match display. He stopped any attacks coming from the Russians, breaking down play and keeping possession well, with his goal being the icing on the cake.


The system also worked for long periods, especially for the likes of Adam Lallana, who impressed in the first half. In the second period, Harry Kane became too isolated and Raheem Sterling was often running into avenues without much support, so mixing it into a 4-2-3-1 going forward might give the team a better balance.

The big problem arose after 70 minutes, when Roy Hodgson finally made some substitutions. They were a little late in the game to affect much and they were very negative, especially given England’s position in the game and that he would have not made them if the team were still searching for a goal.

Taking Rooney off seemed suspect even if he was slowing in the game and his replacement, Jack Wilshire, was like-for-like and he did his best. Bringing James Milner on for Sterling showed everything you needed to know, England wanted to sit on the one-nil lead they had and take the three points home.

It’s right that they were still unlucky to concede at the end to an opposition that had not turned up for the other 90 minutes but in football you create your own luck. With them likely to push on, bringing on any of the forwards on the bench would have kept them on the backfoot and susceptible to the counter attack.


Milner coming on was too negative and it cost England. Source: Yahoo

What was more worrying is the fact that there wasn’t just one option to put in that role either. Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford would have pressured the aging Russian defence as they tired and pushed for an equaliser. They all could fill a role out wide too if needed, so he did not even need to switch tactics to bring them on.

That negative attitude to hold on cost England dear, with Milner ever rushing out too far that allowed the cross in to the box and the biggest lesson they should learn is that their positivity was what got them into a winning position in the first place. Hodgson needs to trust his attackers and in a key derby game against Wales, England need to make a statement of intent or face more embarrassment from a team that are just as desperate to win.

In fact, this game could be do or die for Hodgson. Win and he can hopefully see the light to set course for greater victories down the road but if he fails to, he could be heading for disaster which would mean his head would be on the chopping block.

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Tottenham Hotspur – The Barcelona of the Premier League

Pochettino has created a top team in North London.  Source: ibtimes.com

Pochettino has created a top team in North London. Source: ibtimes.com

Yes you read that title correctly. No, I haven’t suffered a mental breakdown and yes, I have been watching the Premier League this season.

The fact of the matter is Tottenham Hotspur are the club in England that play the closest to the Spanish giants everyone holds up as one of the most impressive teams in football. However, it may not necessarily be for the reasons you usually associate with the Catalan side.

Spurs’ best attribute this season has been their stern defence. They’ve conceded just 20 goals this season in the league and despite just nine clean sheets in 26 games, they have only allowed more than one goal twice.

It’s pretty impressive and while some will pin it down to their Belgian centre-back pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, along with their world class goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, the real difference has been in front of them. It’s the manager Mauricio Pochettino’s use of Eric Dier that has really helped them become a sterner unit at the back.

The defender-cum-defensive midfielder had been utilised in a number of positions last season but it’s his role as the protector that has pushed his game to the next level. He doesn’t venture too far forward and even slots in as an extra defender as the full-backs push on.

Dier's positional move has really improved the team.  Source: Sky Sports

Dier’s positional move has really improved the team. Source: Sky Sports

That movement, although simple, gives them an extra body against counter attacks and allows his centre-backs to close down the space as he uses his defensive instincts to cover. Much like Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano do at Barcelona, they almost create a 3-5-2 as the full backs push on to give them the width that allows their creative players more space in more dangerous areas.

The two CBs also act in a similar way to what Gerard Pique does, as they are both quick on the ground and proficient with the ball. Both Vertonghen and Alderweireld are capable passers, even switching play on occasion and it’s a real asset to the team.

Speaking of the full-backs, the club’s use of their four players in those positions on both wings has been very impressive. They rotate them when they can to keep them fit, which keeps things competitive and has pushed four solid players to become even better, as well as becoming a real important part of their attacking play.

In an even stranger stat, both right backs (Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier) have a goal and an assist while both left-backs (Danny Rose and Ben Davies) have two assists. They are allowed to get forward and create chances in Pochettino’s team, with Trippier showing a few weeks ago how much freedom they have.

Even with possession on the opposite flank, Trippier found himself in the opposition box to score. It was reminicent of Dani Alves or Jordi Alba at Barcelona, who are more advanced more often that most full-backs for any team, contributing mainly in an attacking sense with the knowledge that they have cover from those three defenders behind them.

Rose, along with the other full backs, have been key for Spurs this season.  Source: The Express

Rose, along with the other full backs, have been key for Spurs this season. Source: The Express

Pochettino does come from that class of Marcelo Bielsa pupils, along with the likes of Pep Guardiola, which is probably why his style emulates Barcelona. They like to win the ball high up if they can, they like their full-backs to provide the width and their defensive midfielder to have the discipline to stay back.

And while they don’t have the attacking potency of Barcelona, their forward players have been allowed to create and cause havok. Harry Kane is no one-season wonder, Dele Alli has been a revelation, Christian Eriksen has continued to grow and Erik Lamela no longer looks like an expensive mistake.

All that is gelled by quietly one of their best players in Mousa Dembele. The Belgian is a real workhorse, going from box to box and be involved as much as he can on both sides of the ball. He keeps them ticking with his 89.5% pass completion, he’s added three goals and he’s the perfect foil to the balance that any side needs.

When rotation is needed, the likes of Heung Min Son and Nacer Chadli have contributed as well and along with the full-back depth and the form of Kevin Wimmer in Vertonghen’s absence, they have plenty of talent in their squad. It means they’ve sneaked games they used to lose and it’s a great credit to the side that Pochettino has created in his just-under two seasons there.

Tottenham can absolutely win the league, they have enough to do it but the real thing here is they can really build something here. The one issue is keeping every single piece they can in the summer, or at the very least finding the right replacements and the little additions, with a move to a new stadium on the way along with the influx of TV money, they could make themselves a permanent top four fixture.

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