Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Triumphant England, but for how long?
(The following post was written for The Football Supernova by Sports writer & journalist John Mason. He's the author of the popular blog "Football Following" which you can find over here. Have a look at it! You can also follow him on Twitter @johnmason_29.)
England beat Spain. That's right in case you thought I was joking, or you couldn't comprehend what I just said to you, England won! Without doubt one of England's best results under Fabio Capello, with the side winning 1-0, unfortunately this was just a friendly and for tournament wins and trophies we as a national side are still a long behind Spain in winning them. However, what friendlies are used for are to learn and find out about the characters and individuals you have in your team, and I think for once we saw a side to England that hasn't been there before. A strong work ethic and a willingness to do work for one another.
Many people have been sceptical and critical of Fabio Capello's constant change of selection and tactics and making no bones about it, I am often one of those people. Watching England these last few years under his leadership has been very traumatic. Under the beaming lights of Wembley Stadium, on a special evening and big occasion before remembrance Sunday, in front of 87,000 spectators on a night that saw the best ranked team in the world role into town, England for the first time looked half decent. We won the match! Just. But by no means are we the finished article and are still a long way behind Spain.
I would not have played the 4-3-3 system we started with, and actually if Capello hadn't have noticed it and changed it after half time when he did, to a 4-5-1 we would have been beaten. For me, you can not go toe, to toe, against Spain playing an expansive game with wingers. Passing the ball and having all the possession, playing in little triangles like the Spanish do. The game is going to be squeezed and if you don't have much of the ball, you can't use the width. Assessing the England team for the Euro's and for the future. We need a system that is either a 4-5-1 like we finished against Spain or a 4-4-2. Either formation will work as long as there is always someone to support Rooney when he is eligible to play again. If it was me I'd go 4-4-2.
Looking at the squad itself at the moment I think there are a lot of positives. The defence is working well and all players who performed against Spain did a decent job. However, unfortunately for Jagielka, he like the rest of us knows he will be replaced by John Terry, the England captain who Capello it seems is going to back. Lescott and Jagielka have played together before and so I feel they are a perfectly good partnership to carry England forward. As for the midfield everyone that played is in with a shout of selection. Young and Wilshere should be back for selection and also Steven Gerrard. Going into further detail. Jones played well. However he is not a midfielder at all and at times he looked out of his depth. For me I don't think he is quite England standard yet and Lampard could be in trouble once the younger, fresher talent I available for selection. The big question however, for England is who will get the nod upfront to play instead of Rooney and score the goals England need to progress through the early stages of the coming Euro 2012 tournament? The answer is.. I don't know.
Bent provided England with a platform for the goal, but other than that didn't do a lot. Welbeck showed signs of encouragement but isn't established enough yet. Sturridge was left out and so is missing his opportunity. Carroll and Crouch aren't being considered at the moment and the days of Heskey appealing to England look set to be over. So if it was my decision, I'd go for Jermain Defoe, a steady player that can lead the line and score goals. For Fabio Capello, to be remembered as a good England manager, rather than a bad one. He must keep the current set up and group of players together and not keep changing. He should know his team, and stick with it through out these next friendlies and use these next games as practise. We certainly won't win the Euro's but we can certainly have ago and install some pride back into the England jersey. For English football to move forward however, and to close the gap on favourites like Spain the fundamentals of our game must change.
The English game is taught in a style that teaches our youngsters to play kick and rush football. To shoot on sight. The objective being to get the ball out wide as quickly as possible for it to be lumped into the box. When we do not have the ball, we are taught to only press the ball in areas that are dangerous for example once the opposition have come over half way and pose a danger to the defending team. This is surely the wrong way to go about playing and winning football at the highest level. Times have moved on since those days. England and English football has not. If you look at why Spain are so good. It is because they play totally the opposite way. When playing with the ball they are taught to almost shadow the player in possession. To not spread out, or crowd the ball, but to envisage playing in triangles, creating small space in which to play the ball in. The ball retention of where you are passing it using every player on the pitch at all time, and working the ball up to the front from the back is key.
Finally, when Spain do not have the ball they press the ball like mad, to win it back. Not just in their own half but all over the pitch, they work so hard to win the ball back as they have the mentality that if they have the ball, the opponent can't win. We must surely address this first and change our style of play to meet the demands of the modern day era to win games. Before we can ever look at winning a major trophy.