England arrived in Brazil with so-called ‘lower expectations’ but these have been proven void after the subsequent inquest following a dismal showing in Group D.
For me personally, I did not share the view that the Three Lions would do well to get out of the ‘cut-throat’ group, I fully expected Roy Hodgson’s side to reach at least the quarter finals with a young, exuberant squad which had no fear.
Yet we all know what happened, but why? For me England need to incorporate Wayne Rooney and I feel the best way to do this is to play him in his best position, right up top.
But Daniel Sturridge plays up front, I hear you say and I completely agree that he should be there, however there is nothing stopping Hodgson partnering the pair as Brendan Rodgers was brave enough to do this season with Luis Suarez and the England hit-man.
Liverpool rarely did play three at the back but we have seen how well Sturridge can link up with a fellow striker. The same can also be said for Danny Welbeck who arguably enjoyed his finest season whilst partnering Rooney in 2011/2012, scoring nine goals, impressive for a 21-year-old.
I propose a 3-4-1-2 formation, which would also see England’s outstanding performer against Italy, Raheem Sterling playing through the middle once again as he did so brilliantly for Liverpool towards the end of last season.
The formation may have startled you somewhat but I think it is fair to say England’s best strength is in attack and if Rooney can be unleashed playing right up top then surely the goals will start to flow.
Steven Gerrard would be able to sit in midfield in the deep-lying role he has adapted to perfectly and Jordan Henderson could provide the legs needed to run the midfield, not forgetting Sterling’s breathtaking pace and direct style.
The formation could also see the best come out of two players crucified for their part in a quite frankly disastrous showing in Brazil, Leighton Baines and Glen Johnson. Both players have great attacking ability but not so good defensive capabilities, as proved by Baines’ poor effort to stop Mario Balotelli’s winner for Italy.
But enough of that, these two players have great work-rate and can break forward brilliantly for their clubs. Given more freedom, these two could excel playing further forward, if Dirk Kuyt can play well at left wing back, anyone can.
That brings me on nicely to my next point, other nations have shown how effective this bold formation can be, and these are teams that have been highly criticised defensively in the past.
Chile play the exact same 3-4-1-2 to perfection, humbling Spain and it is especially effective against a side with one up front as the striker can become awfully isolated as Diego Costa found out. Costa Rice played a slightly more defensive 5-4-1 but this proved equally effective, conceding just one goal in three group games and scoring twice as many as England.
It does not take the finest defenders to pull of this formation either, Gary Medel pulled it off for goodness sake and England’s own Gary Cahil has shown what a world class defender he can be.
Ron Vlaar has not exactly set the world alight in the Premier League but has marshalled the defence brilliantly for the Dutch this tournament and I believe these two dark horses are showing the formation can be just as effective as the players.
So how would England exactly set up? Let me show you:
GK: Hart - DF: Smalling, Cahill, Jagielka - MF: Johnson, Henderson, Gerrard, Baines AM - Sterling ST: Rooney, Sturridge.
So there you have it, England need to play to their strengths, it is quite obvious this is in attack. Hodgson needs opposition to change for us and not the other way round. So none of this Rooney on the left again please!
There is also the potential for others to comfortably fit into this formation, imagine Ross Barkley rampaging from number ten and Luke Shaw could find himself marauding down the left if Baines continues his dreadful form.
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