England enter the World Cup in a bizarre situation. For once, we are not all getting carried away thinking about glory, as we all accept that Roy Hodgson and his team have no chance of being successful in Brazil. Even the most optimistic fan will say ‘they may surprise us,’ with the surprise being that we may manage to sneak out of Group D.
With a draw handed to us that sees England face Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica, it’s a nightmare scenario. Here we face the foes that knocked us out of the European Championships two years ago, the side that boasts the Premier League’s top goalscorer and a side that are relatively unknown but boast a threat.
The truth of the matter is, if England approach the tournament in the same fashion to what we have seen in qualifying over the past two years, then they are doomed. There have been major problems with the national team in recent years, which have only just started to be addressed. Unfortunately, it’s likely to be too late to have a dramatic effect.
However, there are some adjustments Hodgson can make in order to give his side the best possible chance of competing. The fact of the matter is, he has to make some changes, otherwise England will be going home quicker than anybody wants to.
The first modification is that England need to attack. Far too often we play a boring style of football that results in us sitting back and inviting the opposition to ‘give it their best shot.’ Unfortunately, England are not skilled enough to do that, and if we proceed with the same approach against Uruguay and Italy, we’ll be ripped to shreds.
England must play a variation of a 4-4-1-1 formation, rather than the 4-3-3 we’ve seen regularly. Under no circumstances should Daniel Sturridge play on the wing, as he’s our greatest asset and must be through the middle. Moreover, we have enough capable wingers. The same applies to Danny Welbeck, who in truth shouldn’t start anywhere.
Our defense is the weakest in recent memory, consisting of players with little or no international experience. They are all used to playing understudy in the England set-up, or playing in friendlies. The exception to this is Glen Johnson, who has been England’s first-choice right-back for years, but he is poor.
England cannot afford to leave their defense vulnerable. Someone will have to play a holding role in midfield, while it’s better to have two in the position. The players on the wings, along with Rooney and Sturridge, will provide enough of an attacking threat. If we play with four attack minded midfielders, it will undoubtedly prove to be the undoing of England.
The most important change is that the players need to step up and perform. I can’t remember the last time England were impressive in a game, and for some reason players that are great at club level disappear on the international stage - look at Wayne Rooney for a prime example.
If England make these changes, we might have a chance of winning some games in Brazil. If we don’t, I’m expecting us to finish near the bottom of the group. Whatever the scenario, big changes are definitely needed after the summer.
Written by Josh Challies