England persistently play in an orthodox 4-4-2 formation. And the reality is it isn’t working.
Playing with two strikers in front of a midfield quartet consisting of two wingers, a holding player and a more attacking central midfielder is outdated and ineffective. In addition to this it simply does not get the best out of the small selection of players we have to choose from.
It's time for England to modernise, reenergise and play with a formation that offers just as much attacking threat as it does defensive cover.
Here we look at three reasons why England must adapt and turn to a 4-3-3 formation:
1) A formation that enables England to keep possession of the ball
England have played relatively negatively at recent tournaments and this is party to do with the formation that has been employed. With a conventional midfield formation as explained in the introduction England don’t possess the balance to be able to keep possession of the ball and move it forward.
England should play to their strengths with a midfield trio who are experts at keeping the ball and have the vision and creativity to move the ball forward effectively. One of these midfielders should have more defensive duties to keep the balance with the other two more responsible for the linking the defence to the attack. The likes of Michael Carrick and Jack Wilshere are perfect for these roles and it is time to exploit the great talents we have in the centre of the park.
No more yawn inducing, functional wingers like James Milner and Ashley Young whose exploits going forward lack drive and imagination. Three classy central midfield players can work together effectively and ensure England can keep possession of the ball and offer a more attacking threat.
2) Exploit the great potential that England have on the wings
England have a great wealth of wingers that are not suited to a conventional winger position in a 4-4-2 Formation. Rather than being pushed out to the side lines England should employ the wingers as attacking wing forwards that play further up the field in a more central position.
The likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Lennon and Wilfried Zaha have great attacking instincts and the natural ability to support a striker upfront.
Their drive, pace and multitude of skills mean that if England employ two up front with a striker there will be enough creativity and support to make England a real attacking menace.
3) England don't have enough quality strikers
The miserable fact is that England do not possess the greatest bunch of strikers and many are fairly mediocre and ineffective on the International Stage. Jermaine Defoe, Darren Bent, Rickie Lambert, Grant Holt, even Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge are not going to strike fear into world-class opposition. They may be good players but they are not game changers on the International stage.
Wayne Rooney is the only world-class striker that England has. And yes, it is true he hasn’t performed in a major tournament since his fresh faced debut at Euro 2004. But he is the only striker that truly possesses world class ability and that is why England will stick with him.
So in light of the facts it makes sense to play with one striker being supported by two attacking wingers. This is the most efficient, effective formation that England can play and I believe if England gave it a try it would inspire great confidence and perhaps the national side could look a significant threat at a major tournament once again.
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