England's solution to become among the elite

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Roy Hodgson has played four different formations since becoming England manager, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, a 4-4-2 diamond and finally a ridiculously inept and archaic flat 4-4-2.

What this tells us is that the manager still, after three long years doesn’t know his best side and what formation they should play.

Compare this to Spain who have won three out of the four last international tournaments they have played in have barely changed their system at all over the previous seven years, having settled into a highly effective 4-3-3.


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This consistency allows the players to be confident in a plan, they know their jobs and with the quality in their side they execute them to consummate perfection.

England on the other hand under pressure from a blood thirsty media and public have wrung the changes constantly since the departure of Sven Goran Eriksson.

If the history of football, especially international football teaches us anything it is that consistency wins. Look at the German side, they have reached the semi-finals or furhter in every tournament they have entered since 2008 and Joachim Loew has been their manager from the beginning, playing the same system with a group of players who have been together since they were kids. By contrast England have had three different managers since 2006 and have had vastly different squads in every tournament they have entered.

England however are in a moment of opportunity, like Germany in 2006 they are going through a period of transition but have a vast array of exciting young talent, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Harry Kane and John Stones are all under 22 and aside from Phil Jagielka and Wayne Rooney the entire England first XI is under 30. England have an opportunity to cement a team as a genuine European contender, and it is one which must be seized with both hands.

This can only be done however with the right kind of coach, a pragmatic manager a la Roy Hodgson and Fabio Capello is simply not going to work. As Xavi pointed out in an interview with Jamie Carragher in 2014, England need to play to their strengths, they have pace all over the park and have physical prowess on their side as well as technical ability.

This illustrates the need for fast paced football, passing teams to death won’t work, the quality isn’t there in midfield for that, but playing on the break with quick and powerful attacks with lightning fast full backs coming on the overlap is simple but highly effective. Roy Hodgson, Fabio Capello and Steve McClaren played conservative football, more worried about not losing so they could stay in their prestigious job, they did not allow the attacking talent to do what it was there for and England suffered as a result.

For an example of how to use the pace and power of this squad properly, one must only look at the annihilation of Barcelona in 2013 by Bayern Munich. Barcelona arguably had the stronger squad, but Bayern played to their strengths and destroyed Barcelona with their hard work and intensity.

Until England start playing to their strengths, they will consistently fail on the international stage. If they allow these young talents to express themselves however, and show what they are clearly capable of in a properly attacking style of play, England will no longer be seen as a spent force but a team to be genuinely feared.

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