When thunder and lightening interrupted the England friendly match in Florida ahead of the five day trip to Brazil otherwise known as the 2014 World Cup, perhaps it was more symbolic than we realised at the time.
An England squad supported by a staff of some 85 (yes 85), including kit men, physios, trainers, dieticians etc, but apparently noone designated to consider the weather forecast. Despite being lead by the second highest paid national manager in the world at £3.1m a year plus £750k bonus for qualifying for the World Cup, it all unraveled in five short days and three matches in which yet another England campaign careered off the rails.
If only a lightening bolt of inspiration had struck Hodgson in 2014 or since, in much the same way as Claudio Ranieri was persuaded to discard his ‘tinker man’ reputation at Leicester this season.
Forging a team of individuals all playing to their strengths within a clearly defined and extremely effective counter attacking style, defending from the front and utilising the natural ability of individuals to the utmost benefit of the team. No square pegs in round holes at Leicester, unlike Hodgson’s England.
In Brazil, Hodgson observed before the opening match against Italy, that if you allow Pirlo to have the ball he will kill you, or words to that effect.
Having stated as Basil Fawlty might have said ‘the bleeding obvious’, Hodgson then failed to detail any England player to deny Pirlo possession, leaving Milner on the bench and Pirlo duly obliged. Fast forward to Wednesday against a Ronaldo-less Portugal and whilst the defence performed better than feared against a toothless attack, the midfield and attack was a mess.
There was no driving force in midfield; with Alli’s lack of maturity and self discipline demonstrating itself again as a clear warning of an impending dismissal in more competitive games. Rooney was once again ‘Captain America’ – here, there and everywhere – taking up the spaces where Kane and Vardy might be most effective.
Vardy has a number of key attributes including pace, physicality, tenaciousness and a keen eye for goal, but he isn’t designed as a footballer to be stuck out on the wing. Similarly, Kane has developed as a more complete striker this season, albeit with much to learn, but again is no wing man. Until Sterling came on as a substitute, England had no wingers.
Perhaps Hodgson envisages a kind of ‘Roy of the Rovers’ England team, with Kane driving forward, passing out wide to Kane, Kane sending in a cross for Kane to head home…
Sir Alf Ramsey in 1966 (heavens, I thought that might be the beginning of something, not the end) said that he hadn’t selected the ‘best’ players from those available to him, omitting Jimmy Greaves among others, but that he had selected the best players to play the way he wanted the team to play most effectively.
Shankly, Clough, Ferguson, Mourinho all had or have a clear idea of how they wanted their teams to play and it seemed to work quite well most of the time.
Food for thought, Roy?
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