After this year’s World Cup many a pundit had said that it was the end for the 4-4-2 system.
Only England, it seems, had stuck to that formation and their short comings was there to be seen in the dismal defeat to Germany who had played with just one striker – Miroslav Klose - with forward running midfielders in Thomas Muller and Lukas Podolski.
Yet on Tuesday night against Bulgaria Fabio Capello showed that when used the right way with the right players, the old English way of 4-4-2 can still be deployed.
The key to this system is the way Wayne Rooney seemed to have the freedom to roam the pitch and drop deep to pick up the ball leaving the goal scoring duties to Jermain Defoe.
Defoe for me is the best English goalscorer in the Premier League, ever since he broke through at West Ham, via a loan spell at Bournemouth where he scored 19 in 29 games including ten goals in ten games.
He has had the ability to score it seems whenever the chance is presented to him as shown by his performance against Bulgaria.
While all the plaudits went to Defoe for his hat-trick it was Wayne Rooney who was the real man of the match for me, having a hand in three of the four goals scored.
For too long England have relied on Wayne to get the goals and if he wasn’t playing well England seemed to misfire, as they did in the World Cup.
Wayne has always felt it necessary to drop deep to pick up the ball when he has felt that he isn’t getting the service, which meant when he was the main striker he wasn’t up front to receive the ball.
But Fabio should be commended for sticking to his 4-4-2 formation but freeing up Rooney to roam the pitch as he sees fit and with Defoe to finish off his passes.
The start to this qualifying campaign has got off to the best start, as the enforced absence of Frank Lampard meant Steven Gerrard played his more natural game in the centre next to Gareth Barry.
In the team that played Bulgaria, every player was playing in his club position, which did show in the performance.
The next match away to Switzerland on Tuesday night is, if F.I.F.A rankings are to be believed, England’s toughest game of the qualifying campaign, where hopefully the good work started against Bulgaria is continued.
Yet Capello’s England had a near faultless campaign in qualifying for the world cup, its tournament football where England seem to struggle.
The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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