Roy Hodgson’s first game in charge of England was a qualified success, but it was an encouraging start under the regime.

 

Ashley Young’s first half goal settled the game in Oslo but it was an unspectacular performance and one that suggested there is much work to do for the former West Brom boss.

 

Missing Chelsea players was always going to have an effect but the workmanlike showings suggested Hogdson is more concerned with efficiency than having as many creative players on the field as possible.

 

Young’s deployment behind Andy Carroll allowed him to roam in and around the Norwegian defensive third, trying to find space and pick attacking passes.

 

This seems to be the most important role in the side, with the man playing there being given the most creative freedom and this means it will almost certainly be Wayne Rooney’s once he returns.

 

The problem will be finding someone to deputise effectively for the first two games against France and Sweden – those being missed by Manchester United’s top scorer due to suspension.

 

This was effectively a reserve line-up and Hodgson was obviously using the game as a chance to get a better look at some of the lesser-used players, but he may have seen enough when it came to Young’s audition.

 

The United winger is technically good and has great pace to beat defenders – something he did well for his goal – but struggled to impose more of his creative ability in a game that seemed laboured for much of the second half.

 

Young looks like he belongs out wide and that is where he does his most effective work – he puts the best deliveries into the box out of all England’s wide men, which is essential when playing Andy Carroll up front.

 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Young to make his senior international debut with just over a quarter of an hour to go and immediately found Theo Walcott in the box with a deft touch.

 

An 18-year-old making his debut for his country will be understandably nervous, but there were some glimpses of the intelligent movement he possesses and we all know about is ability with the ball.

 

Oxlade-Chamberlain will likely be given another chance to show what he can do when Belgium visit Wembley on Saturday for the final warm-up game and he will be hoping to make more of an impression.

 

However, the return of Frank Lampard could mean Hodgson decides to push Gerrard further on in the Rooney role, but that would mean the old argument about them playing together raises its ugly head once more.

Whoever Hodgson decides is the man to do the job, it is clear that this is the crucial position if this England side are going to have any chance of success – this is due to the limited nature of England’s squad in midfield.

 

While the pace and power of the Premier League means a number of these players can shine in certain environments, international football is all about keeping possession and none of the personnel in the middle of the field are particularly adept at doing so.

 

The wingers have good attacking instincts and are often dangerous, but their crossing is not exceptional and inconsistency seems to be he problem for them all.

 

England’s strongest department is in defence, where they have a number of good centre-backs and possibly the best left-back in the tournament so a bit Hodgson’s famed organisation could make them a difficult team to break down.

 

England have a wealth of players who can deliver functionality in spades, but very few, outside Rooney, who can deliver regular moments of class in the final third.

 

Hodgson admitted his concerns over the stuttering attacking threat his side had in the post-match press conference, but makes a fair point regarding the unfamiliarity of the combinations and the substitutions affecting the flow of the game.

 

However, it was long before the bench was utilised that it become clear Young and Carroll would find it difficult link up fluidly and regularly, but this is temporary problem.

 

The system Hodgson looks like using is one that exploits Rooney’s strengths and builds the team around the possible influence he can have on proceedings – essential for the future of the England side.

 

The Belgium friendly will give us a better idea as to how the team will line up against France in two weeks, but it already appears Hodgson is preparing to work shrewdly within the squad’s limitations.

 

It is an encouraging stance because England will never taste success until they begin to think that way.

Topics:
#Premier League
#Ashley Young
#Wayne Rooney
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