Tag Archives: England

England have finally beaten me

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My England emotions in one photo. Source: nytimes.com

Later on this evening, England take on Slovenia and for the first time in a long while, I don’t care.

At all. Even with Wayne Rooney dropped.

That may not seem like the biggest revelation to most, but from someone that will watch any kind of football, who has sat through the dullest of 0-0 draws in Ligue 1 on a Friday evening, it feels like a watershed moment.

It could stem from the years of being beat over the head. Many say England are destined for failure in major tournaments, there’s a reason why they haven’t won one in 50 years, but the past few campaigns have been full of vapid, lackless movement towards something at least slightly positive.

That began with the dire campaign of 2010, where England scraped through a simple group before being soundly beaten by a far superior German side. That then should have been the real eye-opening moment for The FA, to change the way we go about football and how we develop the next team with a real identity.

Instead, we didn’t. We middle to EURO 2012, where Fabio Capello was replaced by Roy Hodgson months before the tournament and we allowed ourselves to accept a poor display with such a significant change happening so close to the start.

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Hodgson was frankly a mess that England needed to rebound from, they haven’t. Source: The Guardian

Then came the World Cup in 2014, where Hodgson should be showing a team that have the potential to do something in the near future. What we got was a team that could not compete with an aging Italian squad, a solid Uruguay team and the surprise package in Costa Rica.

Surely then, we would open our eyes.

We didn’t. We were lulled into a false sense of confidence via a perfect qualifying campaign and an exciting Premier League season that showed we had a little more talent than we thought. But again, we limped through an average group before being outclassed and out-thought by a brave Iceland team.

A light flickered when Sam Allardyce was appointed, that maybe we could see something different. We did not, we saw exactly the same that we had seen for six years before he tittered off into the night with his big payoff and reputation in tatters.

Enough is enough. The FA has spouted about a plan and an identity for years and now is the time something convincing and achievable is put on the table because at this time, people are not invested anymore.

You can only watch so much of the same thing without any movement for so long. Many might say that there isn’t enough time with the players and that they have to fit in different systems but if other nations can manage to do it, why can’t we?

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FA CEO Martin Glenn is not a “football man”, in his own words. What an excellent man to lead us. Source: TheFA.com

The case for international football has always been that you should be proud to represent your country. That celebrating where you are from against other nations, along with your fellow man, should be the absolute measure of pride within the game of football.

But the reality is that, it isn’t any more. Most players care about the Champions League or winning silverware with their club, along with rightfully lining their pockets for as long as they can in their short careers, with only those that have achieved everything that feel like this is the last hurdle to overcome.

The prime example is Cristiano Ronaldo in the EURO 2016 final as he gave everything, even on the bench while injured, to get his team over the line. When was the last time you saw that from anyone in an England shirt, begging his team to push on and go that extra yard?

That’s right, you haven’t. We’ve sunken so low that it will take a behemoth to really shift this nation of its perceived perch, kick the solution into gear and get them on the path to at least giving everything again.

Last week, Eidur Gudjohnsen said that Iceland manager Lars Lagerbeck pointed out that England were the “most overrated national team side” and he could not have been more right. The hope will be that the next man up, whether it be Gareth Southgate or anyone, has the balls to tell the players that to their faces.

Only then might I come back into the fold myself.

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England can recover under Sam Allardyce

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Allardyce is set to get the job he has always wanted. Source: Sky Sports

While not official until Sunderland come to terms with the move and get the compensation they feel they deserve, Sam Allardyce is set to become the new England manager. News that fills some with anger, some with apathy and some with delight, Allardyce could be the ideal man that the national team need in a moment of crisis.

Before we all get a little too high-and-mighty about our national squad, remember that we have just had the worst World Cup campaign for a long time and were humiliated by a far smaller nation in the European Championships. This is a time where a side on the edge of a younger generation that will need a big lift, the former Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United manager is the perfect person to perk up their spirits and give them a sterner jaw.

By now, we all know what Big Sam brings to the table. Stability, the capability to get the best out of his players and the capacity to grind out those results when they are needed. It’s not always pretty and his style is often criticised but he has yet to not get the job done.

That’s also to mention that Allardyce is not a tactical genius, he will set the team up to be as solid as they can and to get the ball forward quickly. He showed last season with Sunderland that he does not need a big target man to work his system, Jermaine Defoe showed just that, and on evidence from the European Championships he is not outclassed by many on the current international scene.

However, there has been evidence that players do get on his side. He has never been relegated from the top flight, keeping numerous sides up while gaining loyalty throughout his Premier League journey and there will plenty of players delighted to see him take the reins.

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If he can get them going and grind out results, maybe we might see more scenes like this. Source: Premier League

He also had great endorsments from the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, you will struggle to get someone better than that, and he’s been desperate for this job for so long. He will give his all, he will not be afraid of making any difficult decisions and as previous evidence shows, it will not be long before the players are fully behind him.

We are also in a generation where top managers do not really see international jobs as the pinnacle. Many are more enthralled by the best club positions in Europe and with that being the case, Allardyce will not be out of his depth as many naysayers feel he will be.

The FA’s decision to skip young options like Eddie Howe, Gareth Southgate or even Sean Dyche was also a wise move. Give them more time to grow and gain experience, allow them the chance to fail or try their hand at a bigger club before passing the reigns down to the exciting coaching prospects we are beginning to build.

Allardyce is the man England need and the FA deserve. There has been a dearth of solid English coaches in the past ten or so years and that has led to someone who was fighting relegation to get the biggest job in the country in many people’s eyes.

It’s now his time to pick these players up from a heavy blow this summer, give them the confidence and the freedom to perform at the level they need to be at come the World Cup in two years. At least for us viewers, Big Sam will not hide from the task at hand.

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Euro 2016 proves the gap is closer than ever before

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Portugal were never spectacular but they worked hard to get all the way to the title. Source: The Star

After a bustling four-and-a-bit weeks in France, the European Championships are over and Portugal outlasted everyone to lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy. Full of tactical football, defensive football and the ever so fleeting flicker of genius, it has been a tournament that flattered to deceive and revealed that the gap to the top is not as wide as many perceived it to be.

Before it started, many had hoped that we would see an exciting young French team, which we saw in spurts, or the resurgence of the world champions but Germany were poor without Mario Gomez in the side, which is a statement within itself. Others thought Spain could roll back the years but they only managed it for one evening, or England to end the hurt but they instead decided to inflict more of it.

There have been a lot of criticism for the lack of high-level coaching in international football and that’s entirely justified. The difference between someone like Antonio Conte of Italy, who took a underwhelming side on paper and made them look like a powerhouse that could even switch formations at a whim without losing much, to Marc Wilmots of Belgium, who turned a superstar team into a disheveled bunch of Sunday footballers, was incredibly stark.

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Spain disappointed and were outclassed by two more tactically aware sides. Source: ESPN

What also stood out was the difficulty of the bigger sides with prominent talents struggling to break down an organised defence. Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and England were all lacking ideas against teams that set up shop to stop them from scoring and the lack of ideas were startling at times, with some getting lucky and some bombarding the opponent until they finally allowed one to trickle home.

That’s also being a little unkind to some of the smaller nations in Europe that showed exactly why they qualified and that they can go with the best of them. Iceland were so well drilled, Wales’ counter-attacks were often so efficient, Hungary were not afraid to have a go at anyone, they all showed off that they have much more than people gave them credit for.

Attacking prowess was really at an all-time low in this tournament, with even star number nines struggling to have a big impact. A lot of teams leading up to the tournament looked short of strikers but even the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Harry Kane, who have had fantastic seasons at club level, failed to make a huge impact.

In fact, only four strikers made the top 10 goalscorers list, which would include Antoine Griezmann, Alvaro Morata, Olivier Giroud and Mario Gomez. Others like Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale were used as forwards but aren’t natural central players that we have seen in years gone by.

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Wales epitomised this tournament with their hard work and can-do attitude. Source: indianexpress.com

Instead, it was defences that reigned supreme and some of the real standouts of the tournament were centre backs. Leonardo Bonucci was sensational as both a custodian at the back as well as a creative force, Jerome Boateng showed how much he’s grown in the past year as a frighteningly athletic defender and Pepe reminded everyone that even though he picks up the bad reputation as a diver, he is also a world class centre back.

Overall, it was entertaining and had its moments but Euro 2016 never really burst into life the way many hoped it would. There were some standout games and some heroically memorable performances but it never quite pushed itself over the average barrier it set itself from the off.

Shamefully, this tournament will also be marred by fan unrest at the start of the tournament and the scenes we saw at the end of the England and Russia game in Marseille. On the other side of the coin, many won’t forget the scenes of both Republic of Ireland fans and Northern Ireland fans gave, especially the latter rocking stadiums about a striker that never saw a minute of play.

It will be remembered for a long time though, reminding everyone again what you can achieve in football. Even with a lower standard of player to choose from, even against some of the best in the world and even when your star man is out for the count, you can still pull something a little special out of the bag.

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England are experts in failure

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Roy Hodgson failed, spectacularly, and should have been removed after the World Cup. Source: soccernews.com

Hello darkness my old friend, England is back with you again. Another major tournament, another exercise in failure as the Three Lions add to the 50 years of hurt by combining it with the most humbling of defeats at the hands of Iceland.

It started early on in qualifying, where many point out that they had an easy time of it as they won every single game. They did, but people forget to add the narratives to that qualification, like when they struggled to break down Estonia for a long time away from home and that Slovenia took the lead in both of the fixtures during qualifying.

Those were then drowned out by positive friendly results against Germany and France. The former was experimenting with their squad, which seemed to be a constant with England, while the latter was recovering from a harrowing few days after the terrorist attacks in Paris just a few nights before.

Buoyed by an exciting Premier League season, fans were expectant of at least an exciting team, if not looking for winning the whole thing. Those initial hopes took a small blow when manager Roy Hodgson decided to avoid outstanding players of the season like Danny Drinkwater and Mark Noble for experienced internationals that had barely kicked a ball all season in Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson.

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Wilshere was a bad choice, he never looked match fit. Source: Sky Sports

Then came the friendlies, where worry began to set in. The first against Turkey was a little lucky, they started well but faded badly, but it was forgiven as it was almost a week after the season and the team were waiting on the Manchester United players to join from their FA Cup exploits.

Australia were next and were dispatched nicely, especially in the second half, but the fact that Hodgson had rotated a lot of the team and not played a full-strength side had people a little shaky. Then came the calamity against Portugal, ruined by a silly red card from Bruno Alves and what was an awful attempt to employ the 4-1-2-1-2, that seemed like the manager had maliciously butchered it to stop the calls for its usage.

Either that or he vastly misinterpreted what the formation should be doing but that would have been incompetence unbecoming of someone that coached at the highest level.

Reassurance came in the shape of the first game against Russia, where England clearly dominated the possession and looked like the only team in the game. It took a free kick to break the deadlock and in true heartbreaking fashion, the Russians stole an equaliser right at the death.

Undeterred, they faced Wales with the same kind of gusto until the first Joe Hart mistake put the neighboring nation in front. Hodgson was then praised for his attacking substitutions, rather than lamented for starting the same side that had struggled to score in the last game, and the Three Lions got away with a win after two rather fortunate goals.

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Rooney worked well at times but regressed dramatically against Iceland. Source: Daily Star

With the fire back in their bellies, surely they would simply put Slovakia to the sword? Everyone was wrong. England really struggled to break them down bar a few glimpses in the first half before barely creating a decent sniff in the second, a goalless draw that would see them finish behind Wales in the group.

A blessing in disguise, many said, as they had to take on the small nation of Iceland. England’s domination had them waiting to pummel someone and it looked like they would be the one’s for the taking, with people already drawing up plans on how to take on France.

They looked way too far ahead after England capitulated from a decent start to concede almost straight away before another dreadful error from Hart handed Iceland the lead. Devoid of ideas, disinterested in changing the pace and frankly dire in the second half, where they switched to the famous tactic of four up-front playing off centre-back Gary Cahill, England disappeared from the European Champions with what was less than a whimper.

Attack was our strong suit but nervous Hodgson did not want us using our biggest asset to our advantage. England had 20.5 shots per game, that resulted in four goals with only two coming from open play and 51% of all strikes at goal came from out of the box.

Tepid forward play brought on from just one natural winger playing and the decision to avoid using our strengths by sticking what had got them through one of the simplest qualifying campaigns in recent memory. If it worked against San Marino, it’ll work against the world.

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Rashford stood out in all of the 21 minutes he played throughout the Euros. Source: Give Me Sport

Some blamed a long, Premier League season had tired some of them out and in that second half, that looked like the case. The onus on fitness is the manager, if he saw fatigue in some of his players before the tournament, he should have catered their training to preserve and renew their fitness so they could go at full throttle come tournament time.

An article from Matt Hughes of The Times said today that players were confused in Hodgson’s ideas, with one source saying: “Hodgson is the type of man who doesn’t know whether he wants tea or coffee in the morning, and this permeated to the players.” That was clear from the lack of cohesion in his selection both in the friendlies beforehand and the competition itself, he had no idea how to get the best out of the group.

In very much the style of Manchester United this season, it took Marcus Rashford to come on for the final five minutes to add a little bit of verve and creativity. It was an embarrassment to see, he should be heralded for trying something different while others around him simply gave in the ghost.

In the end, the obituaries will come and lessons need to be learnt but at the same time, it always seems to fall on deaf ears. Until someone finally cracks these players and how they should be functioning, which shouldn’t be too difficult for a qualified professional, then we will be stuck in the mud.

This has become a habit, passed on by generations, that this kind of level is acceptable and almost unavoidable. But much like Hodgson’s useless press conference yesterday, until someone champions a way forward, we will only be greeted by the sound of silence.

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Three issues England need to fix for the knockout stages of EURO 2016

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Hodgson is close but he’s got no cigar so far. Source: The Guardian

England are through, by the skin of their teeth but nevertheless, they are in the knockout stages. So what did we learn from the first three games of the tournament? And what needs to be done to stand any chance of progressing through a tough draw? Here’s three points of emphasis for their upcoming games.

 

Domination needs to turn into penetration

While that might sound like an innuendo, England have struggled to turn their possession advantage into significant chances at goal.

So far in the tournament, the Three Lions have averaged more shots per game than any team with 21.3. However, only five have been on target per game and 53% of their strikes have been from outside the 18-yard box.

It’s clear from those stats alone, without adding that they have scored only three goals with one from a free-kick, that they need to work the ball into the box more often. They are settling for pot shots at goal and aren’t carving out opportunities that are testing the opposition goalkeeper.

And when they do get into the right areas, they need to be more accurate with their shots. Too many half chances in the box have gone wide or straight at the goalkeeper and against the better sides, they will need to start scoring.

 

Change the pace of passing to break teams down

A regular problem for England has been breaking teams down that are sitting deep and denying them space in the box.

In the three group games, 86% of England’s passes were short while only 5% (27 in total) of them were crosses into the box. It’s good that the team is keeping possesion well and not simply lumping the ball forward but more of a mixture will dirsupt teams.

It’s also consistently too slow, playing along the lines and not creating penatrating balls that worry defences. A quick succession of play can pull a defence out of shape if it rushes to meet the challenge but England never seemed to try and use one-touch passing to speed up their play.

If they can have moments in the game where they change up their tempo to create gaps in the defence, they’ll create more moves into dangerous areas. An opposition is at its weakest when you are in behind them and Roy Hodgson’s side simply aren’t getting into those kinds of areas consistently enough.

 

Do not fear dribbling past a player in the final third

In what seems to be an epidemic in the entire championship, Hodgson’s men seem to fear taking on players one-on-one in the final third.

It might be a strange thing to say, given that England average 19.7 successful dribbles a game, but when eight have come from both the right backs, it’s simply not good enough. Too often, players look for a pass first while out wide instead of taking on the full-back, which also shows why there have been so few crosses as well.

Especially towards the end of the Slovakia game, when they would have been tiring from holding on for so long, the wide players needed to exploit the full-backs. Late on, players should look to at least take someone on if they are in a one-on-one to simply force another player out of position to deal with the situation.

Combining that idea with the one above creates a much more fluent and dangerous attacking style. Both force defences to move out of their shape when successful as players start to find room and when they do shift, they can take advantage of the holes created.

 

Even after all that, there are positives to take. England are playing better football than in the previous few tournaments and with plenty of young talent, they have a chance to evolve together over the next few years. If they can just add the above to their repertoire to get more goals when in the ascendancy, they will be a team no one would like to face in the knockout stages of the European Championships.

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England Analysis: Hodgson’s negative substitutes stunted solid display

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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.

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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.

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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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England’s Women put their game on the map

It ended in tears but the Lionesses should come home with pride.  Source: The Independent

It ended in tears but the Lionesses should come home with pride. Source: The Independent

Thursday morning’s result was a real gut-punch after such a superhuman effort but England has every right to be proud of the Lionesses’ performance over the whole tournament. They came in without much fan-fare, expected to disappoint but instead they won the hearts of a nation and put the Women’s rightfully in the spotlight.

Going back to the European Championships two years ago, England were dumped out of the group stages with a lot of embarrassment. Out went a lot of the old guard, including Hope Powell, and the remodel of the team started.

Heading into the tournament in Canada, this England team wasn’t under a great deal of pressure and weren’t expected to go too far. In fact, after their opening loss to France, some predicted that they’d be coming home early.

How wrong they would be.

Lucy Bronze has been excellent and is nominated for the Golden Ball award.  Source: The Guardian

Lucy Bronze has been excellent and is nominated for the Golden Ball award. Source: The Guardian

Two wins against Mexico and Colombia saw them through to face Norway, a challenge that to some could have been insurmountable. The Lionesses hadn’t won a knockout game in World Cup history but they snapped their duck in style, winning 2-1 and heading to Vancouver to take on the hosts Canada.

Many thought this would be the stopping point but no, a strong first 20 minutes blew Canada away and despite having to cling on in the end, England made the semis. They had an incredibly strong showing against the reigning champions Japan but the football gods are cruel.

Despite being on top, especially in a 20-minute period at the start of the second half, a freak own-goal in the final moments ended their final hopes. They beat all expectations, putting in an excellent display against a side many predicted would steamroll them, and they’ll return home after the third-placed playoff as heroines.

Mark Sampson has done a superb job in charge of the Women's national side.  Source: The Guardian

Mark Sampson has done a superb job in charge of the Women’s national side. Source: The Guardian

What was really great to see was how this England team really encapsulated what English fans love to see. They worked hard, they pressed the ball in an attempt to suffocate the opponent and they weren’t afraid to put themselves about and go in where it would hurt.

It was a full-blooded display, especially in the knockout rounds, where sheer enthusiasm and team spirit elevated them to levels even they may not have expected to reach. That’s what captured a nation that barely noticed them before the tournament and now will warmly embrace them once they step off the plane next week.

Credit has to go to the WSL too for laying the foundations but the national side have laid that first brick in putting themselves and the women’s game into this countries subconscious. Hopefully there will be a knock-on effect from this, hopefully there will be less of the constant comparisons to the male sides and that a new generation of girls will be inspired to pick up the sport too.

If anything, it should bring some more supporters to the excellent, and very cheap, WSL. I’m certainly invested in going to watch the Notts County Ladies, a ticket is just £6 for adults and I hope others will follow suit.

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England’s selection headaches

Hodgson needs to start sticking to a line-up or they'll come unstuck against better teams.  Source: The Guardian

Hodgson needs to start sticking to a line-up or they’ll come unstuck against better teams. Source: The Guardian

Another Euro 2016 qualifier, another win. It’s hard to argue that Roy Hodgson isn’t doing a good job but at the same time, there’s still a lingering headache with fans with his incoherent team selection.

It began with the starting eleven, with Phil Jones starting at right-back instead of the natural full-back Nathaniel Clyne. Despite Jones having a few good games in the position, especially at club level, it’s not a natural fit and common sense would suggest that when you have someone of Clyne’s ability at your disposal, it makes the choice even more suspect.

Then after Jones was removed due to injury at half-time, Hodgson decided to move Jordan Henderson into the back four and bring on Adam Lallana. It’s an attacking change and England needed more impetuous after going behind, it still didn’t make much sense to weaken the middle of the park just to add another dimension in the final third.

Can people stop playing Phil Jones at right-back, please?  Source: The FA

Can people stop playing Phil Jones at right-back, please? Source: The FA

That’s not a slight on Lallana, who did make a difference, or Henderson, who did a capable job, but it only got more absurd when Clyne finally came on just after Slovenia’s equaliser. It almost felt like a token appearance, five minutes isn’t enough time to really impact the game and questions have to be asked about how England set up.

It’s not just the right-back position that was at fault, how Andros Townsend was chosen over Theo Walcott will boggle the mind for days. Townsend, who can’t get a game for Tottenham Hotspurs, has had a few decent performances for England which surely justifies his place in Hodgson’s mind over the in-form, FA Cup winning Theo Walcott.

If England are to take anything out of the game, it’s that they need more tactical flexibility and they need to start picking a consistent defensive line-up. Wayne Rooney had a pretty poor game but at the same time, all too often he was the only player in the box at any given time and that needed to change.

Walcott, even in a rich vein of form at the end of the season, can't get a look in.  Source: The Guardian

Walcott, even in a rich vein of form at the end of the season, can’t get a look in. Source: The Guardian

Adding Lallana was better, he tried to fill in the gap behind him along with Jack Wilshire but Townsend provided no width on the right, coming too far inside and staying out of the box. With Michael Carrick injured and no other quality options in his absence, Hodgson needs to be confident enough to play a 4-2-3-1 so that there are more choices for playmakers in the final third.

The defence also needs solidifying as his chop-changing style isn’t helping anyone. Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill is probably the ideal match-up, both because of age and style, but they need to play together regularly. He also can’t keep switching who’s at left-back, Kieran Gibbs was poor on the second goal and Ryan Bertrand didn’t do too much to be dropped so he needs to choose a solid line-up at the back.

Having pretty much qualified for Euro 2016 with a win, Hodgson now needs to use the games in the Autumn and next year to solidify the team, add the flexibility and make sure they’ll be ready against quality opposition. The mistakes made here will be severely punished by bigger teams and rather than wasting the time to test out players, Hodgson needs to use the valuable time the team have together to make them a better outfit ready for tournament football.

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