An open letter to Roy Hodgson – you still have time to make England proud
Hope you are good mate – getting some sleep and putting a bit of sun tan lotion on the nose and all that.
Can I ask you a question? What’s been the main problem with the England team over the last 20 odd years?
I would say that they lack cohesion. They don’t play as a team and they too regularly fail to string more than 3 passes together. It happened against Peru last week when England won by a hugely flattering 3-0 scoreline after yet another clunky, disjointed performance.
England don’t play as a team. It must have occurred to you? Even many of the minnows in world football tend to do it better than us.
But we feel that there is a wonderfully simple solution. And the beauty is that you can still implement the change. You still have time.
Because we feel that you have done the first bit right. You picked a great, mobile and youthful squad. All power to you. But now you need to use them properly. Will you have the nerve to buck the trend of your predecessors and pick a team based on the best players rather than just taking the ‘safe’ option? Or will you be setting up your team to simply avoid humiliation and grind out a couple of half-decent results? You have to say that Euro 2012 was pretty dire.
Last season the best two teams in the league were quite clearly Manchester City and Liverpool. City were amazing in fits and starts. And, in the second half the season in particular, Liverpool played some of the best football that we have seen in England. It was fast, technically brilliant, free-flowing and effective. In short, it was excellent team work.
And the great thing for you is that most of the creativity of that Liverpool team is now at your disposal. Sure, you don’t have Suarez or Coutinho from that front 6. But you do have pretty good replacements. Rooney isn’t a bad substitute for Suarez and Ross Barkley is even better than Coutinho.
So please don’t over think this Roy. England don’t play like a team. But you have a ready made team from the Liverpool lads raring to go..
You simply have to play the front 6 in a 4-2-3-1 formation of Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Barkley, Sturridge and Rooney.
Gerrard and Henderson will sit in front of the defence. Henderson isn’t as good as Jack Wilshere but, again, he’s played all season with Stevie G so the balance will be good.
In front of them an interchanging three with Sterling right, Barkley at number ten and Sturridge, the natural left footer, in a narrow left position. Rooney plays number 9 because he’s a top class finisher. What a front 4! How long since England had that sort of pace, power and potency up top? USE THEM!
Stuart Pearce reckons that Barkley shouldn’t be in the squad. But he’s absolutely off his chops if he thinks that Barkley should be held back. All I can say is that I would rather have no manager than Pearce. How he got the England U21 job is utterly beyond me.
Sure Barkley is a little raw at times. But the way he attacks with the ball. The intrepid youthful adventure of him in the dribble. And the way he gets in the face of the opposition when England don’t have possession. England don’t have another player like him and for us it’s a no-brainer – Barkley has to play. He’s our first name on the team sheet.
So too does Sterling. These two players have fallen into your lap over the last year or so. Please don’t stare this gift horse in the mouth.
While Welbeck and Lallana are more experienced players they simply won’t offer the penetration of Sterling. They are the ‘safe’ choices. The choices of many of your predecessors. Sterling, by contrast, will frighten the life out of the Italians et al.
So, there it is Roy. England don’t play like a team. To get them playing like one you simply have to use the Liverpool front 6 template using Barkley and Wazza instead of Suarez and Coutinho.
If you do this then England will make us proud again.
Don’t fall into the trap of your predecessors Roy. Don’t play safe. Play the kids and watch them set The World Cup alight.
Our England XI: Hart, Jones, Cahill, Jagielka, Shaw – Gerrard, Henderson – Sterling, Barkley, Sturridge – RooneyFollow @soccersweep10