As this is a World Cup year, and today being an international day with England lining up against Denmark, there is naturally going to be loads of speculation surrounding the English national team – specifically what 23-man squad Roy Hodgson will want to take to Brazil. Beyond that, supporters and staff alike need to be honest when it comes to the expectations for England’s tournament. Being drawn into a group with both Uruguay and Italy is already a tough nut to crack when it comes to England’s chances of progressing into the knockout stages. Beyond that, potential matchups with either Colombia or the Ivory Coast – two sides that could easily give England issues.
Can England win this summers celebration of Football? No, no they cannot and anyone that claims they can is incredibly unrealistic, but bless them for their optimism. This summer, England must look towards future endeavors, namely preparing for Euro 2016 and then likewise the 2018 World Cup. There have been plenty of stories out there already that are discussing how England need to use this summer as a training ground for younger players to be blooded in preparation for pushes in future tournaments. I could not agree more with those sentiments, but even more importantly, is that Hodgson must decide to stray away from traditional English tactics – how does he accomplish this?
So far Hodgson is on the right track. His selections for the current and previous squads in the recent past have been spot on. He is starting to have more faith in younger players, especially players who are of a different breed when it comes to the attacking third of the pitch. Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling, Jack Wilshere and Adam Lallana to name a few are the types of players that England have been craving for years and who are now coming into prominence for their respective clubs domestically. Hodgson is not afraid to select players based off form, even if they may not necessarily be popular choices, which is another step when it comes to squad selection that England must nail down but where national teams like Germany, Holland, Italy and France have been doing for quite sometime now. Form not name is how you have successful tournaments.
Where England have been getting it wrong for the last I don’t know how many years now, is their tactical set up. This was partially due to a lack of players required to be able to stray away from traditional English tactics, but it was also due in part to England always wanting to stick to a manager who did not think outside English tactics. As football is constantly growing and evolving in the Premier League, more and more English players are coming into the fold who are more like German players – skilled on the ball, quicker, more creative and far more mobile than what England are accustomed to. This is where Hodgson must be judged not only this summer but at Euro 2016 should he still be the headman in charge. The Premier League is arguably the most entertaining league in the world and much of that is due to the beautiful attacking football that is on display each weekend. The catch however, is more often than not, that football is being played by sides that are not managed by an Englishman. Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and even Everton and Southampton to an extent are all playing attractive football but yet are all managed by foreigners. It is no secret that continental managers have a far better grasp of how attacking football has evolved over the years than English managers do, it’s the reason they more often than not prefer to recruit young continental talent rather than look at young English players, though that is starting to finally change. If Hodgson wants to finally get it right for England tactically, he must dip into the tactics that continental managers love to deploy – its these same tactics that the young players he has begun giving serious looks to are playing at club level. To get the best out of those players for the national team, he must look to playing the tactics they are familiar with or all of that talent will go to waste in traditional English fashion.
Many agree that England have no chance this summer. Yet further still there are many that England must look to the future when it comes to their performances in Brazil. Getting it right when it comes to blooding players for the future now will put the national team on the right course for future success. However, all of that will fall by the way side of Hodgson does not allow his players the freedom to express themselves the same they do at club level – it is the real key to this summer and the success that he will hope to bring to the national moving forward, success that has been craved since 1966.
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