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For all the money spent on St George’s Park,

Plus the salaries paid to Roy Hodgson and his staff, the one thing missing was a little change in mentality and some common sense.

Three Lions: Refusing to changeOn paper, the twenty three English players taken to Brazil ranks as one of the better squads in international football. Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge alongside the experienced Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard is enough to make even the most cynical of fans a little optimistic.

Defensively, the Three Lions have been little more then average during the past two games. Phil Jagielka is a very good Premier League defender, but World Cup he is not. John Terry has been sorely missed and the FA must regret their treatment of him. Terry’s leadership is often complimented as his greatest trait, but his positioning and individual defending makes him one of the very best in the world.

The number of players that are technically very competent is increasing slowly. More teams in the Premier League are playing a fast and attacking brand of football, highlighting their ability to play one and two touch football comfortably. Ross Barkley drove forward with the ball for Everton on a number of occasions causing havoc, scoring goals and creating chances for those around him. I lost count the number of times Sterling was released by his Liverpool colleagues Gerrard and Henderson from a deep position, getting a run on opposing defenders who have not a cat-in-hell’s chance of catching him. My point being that with these exciting and direct players available, we didn’t use them to their strengths.

Three Lions: Refusing to change

The above image paints a perfect picture of England’s problem. The ball getting played out of the back is played to one of three players; Glen Johnson, Leighton Baines or Steven Gerrard. The passes that followed the initial distribution either went sideways or backwards, giving no chance to penetrate the space behind either the Uruguayan midfield or wing-backs as they are allowed time to drop into their defensive shape. There was no speed or available route in getting the ball from the defensive third into the attacking third, this allowed Uruguay to get their defensive players into position. You can see this in the above picture; three defenders with a bank of three midfielders in front of them. Uruguay were happy to force England out wide and keep the centre of the field heavily manned. With England taking so long to get the ball forward, Uruguay were able to set up defensively.

Three Lions: Refusing to change

The second picture highlights where Liverpool were so successful; playing quickly to get in behind the midfield line of an extremely strong Manchester City team.

The delay in getting the ball forward was consistently hampered by the numerous touches the midfield players were taking. Steve McManaman commented on this during ESPN’s coverage of the game. It was three touches instead of two, two touches instead of one and so on. The England team is stacked with players who are capable of playing with limited touches and getting the ball from back to front quickly, not using this seriously undermined the ability and quality of the players available.

The vultures that are the English Press, coupled with the mindset of the vast majority of supporters are already calling for Roy Hodgson’s head. Roy has to stay, no doubt about that. Roy has been brave enough to take a young squad to Brazil, he now needs to use common sense and deploy these talents in the same way they play for their clubs.

Reinventing the wheel is not what is needed. A common sense approach to using the players effectively and allowing them to play on the front foot, similar to their club style, is a small change which would reap huge benefits.

Originally published at fourfourtweet.co.uk

Post written by Nick Barron,
Blog: housebarron.wordpress.com, Twitter: @NickBarronJnr
for FourFourTweet, Blog: fourfourtweet.co.uk, Twitter: @FourFourTweet

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