Zack Sorkin puts forward the case for believing in our national football team…
As much as everyone says that we are always too optimistic about England, and we should go into competitions expecting the worst, I just don’t agree at all. I actually think we should put a little more faith in the players, some of whom are great enough to play in the best teams in the world, and we should approach major tournaments with an attitude consisting of the idea that whilst we are never going to play Spain off the park, we can approach the games in a tactical manner that makes us very hard to beat. There are many ways of winning competitions – simply look at Greece in Euro 2004. I genuinely believe that with a fully fit crop of England players, we are good enough to progress from our group in Brazil, and potentially make the semis.
In Joe Hart, we have a fine young keeper. Yes he has made some mistakes recently, but what goalkeeper hasn’t ever had a rough patch? A little more faith needs to be placed in him in order for him to get out of his current rut and I’m sure he will silence his critics in no time at all. Our defence is by no means what it used to be, but we have solid sets of full backs in Johnson and Walker for the right, and Cole and Baines for the left. Our centre backs aren’t the greatest in the world, but Jagielka and Cahill are experienced defenders who are both willing to put their bodies on the line for the cause.
Our defence is by no means what it used to be, but we have solid sets of full backs
In terms of midfield quality, with the likes of Gerrard, Lampard, Wilshere and Carrick, we have four centre midfielders who are all comfortable in possession and offer a threat going forwards as well as stability in the middle of the park. In the wide areas, if we consider Welbeck as a left winger in this situation, then in he, Townsend, Walcott and Chamberlain, as well as some of the young crop coming through like Sterling, Zaha et al, we have a plethora of pacey and tricky wingers capable of getting and creating goals, as shown against Montenegro on Friday. In terms of strikers, we have a tremendous attack; Sturridge and Rooney is right up there in the best in the world, and with the likes of Defoe and Carroll in reserve I feel we have plenty of attacking options to combat and attack different team’s strengths and weaknesses.
So in terms of squad depth, I feel that although on paper we don’t have as good a squad as we did say 10 years ago, we have a hungry crop of players with a great attitude and a lot of talent, capable of winning hard games. We seem to be very concerned in this country with formations and the belief that we should stick to one formation is a prominent belief in the UK. I completely disagree with this, and I believe that professional players should have the ability and knowledge to slot into a few different formations, be it 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1.
We have a hungry crop of players with a great attitude and a lot of talent
I think depending on the opposition, formations can change and be altered and players can be given different roles. For example, like against Montenegro on Friday and I would assume against Poland on Tuesday, England have and will play with a 4-4-2, because I believe that we are significantly better in terms of quality than these teams so that even if the opposition plays 3 in midfield, we have players capable of dictating the tempo at home.
My England 4-4-2 looks like this (provided we are injury free) –
Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines
Townsend, Gerrard ©, Carrick, Welbeck
Against better opponents, like a France or an Italy, I would play a very similar formation, but simply drop Wayne Rooney deeper behind Sturridge, contributing more defensively. I would also perhaps take Townsend out and play Milner to assist defensively. Also, Cole against some of the bigger teams over Baines purely because he is more experienced defensively.
Moving the formation to something like a 4-2-3-1 that would look like this:
Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Cole
Gerrard ©, Carrick
Milner, Rooney, Welbeck
Then against the best teams in the world, say Germany, Spain or Brazil, I would change the formation to a 4-3-3 and sure up the midfield so we aren’t easily cut open, as Man City were against Bayern a couple of weeks ago, playing wide men with lots of energy and pace so that they can help defensively but would be quick to counter attack. Unfortunately like Scholes sometimes had to do and play out of position, I would do a similar thing with Rooney, moving him out to the left, so he can really help out defensively but he also has a lot of entitlement to go forwards and cut in on his right foot.
My 4-3-3 formation would look like this:
Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Cole
Gerrard ©, Carrick, Wilshere
Walcott, Sturridge, Rooney
I don’t see why changing the formation to combat different teams is seen as a bad thing. I just see it as being logical. We have the squad to be able to do this. Obviously some players are better suited to playing against certain teams than others, so chopping and changing slightly in my opinion makes sense.
In my opinion, as long as we beat Poland on Tuesday and qualify, there is no reason as to why we can’t go far in the competition with the likes of Gerrard, Rooney and Sturridge leading the team to successful results. As long as we keep our players fit, play with passion and belief, and practice our penalties, I think the England fans should place a lot of faith into this crop of players coming away from the tournament next summer having put in some good performances and hopefully having made the quarter finals – at least.