Hodgson’s England: what can we expect?

Hodgson’s England: what can we expect?

With Euro 2012 starting in roughly three weeks time, Roy Hodgson only has training sessions and two friendlies to assess who he thinks can fit into his system for the first fixture against France on the 11th of June.

It is well known Hodgson favours a 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 system. Jonatan Johansson said himself on Sky Sports, “Hodgson prefers a 4-4-2 with one striker a bit lower to cut off the holding midfielder”. Pundits will probably call it 4-2-3-1 but they will be missing out the fact that the wide players under Hodgson do not often play, or at least initially start, in the same band as the deeper striker which is why it should be classified as 4-4-1-1/4-4-2.

Hodgson himself said,“With 4-4-2 you have the added advantage that whichever striker receives the ball has support at all times and if balls are played forward there is someone to threaten the back of the defence”.

As manager of Fulham, Hodgson often played a 4-4-1-1 with the withdrawn striker Zoltan Gera playing behind Bobby Zamora.  He has a preference towards a bigger striker as he has shown with his fondness for Zamora and his attempts at signing Carlton Cole for Liverpool as nobody at the club was suited to the role. Peter Odemwingie is not a typical target man but his pace meant he could threaten the back four alone under Hodgson. The lone striker will be key since Hodgson’s teams defend very deep in two banks of four and hardly press the ball. This means that when England win the ball it could be very deep in their own half, therefore it will be very difficult to play it out from a deep position against better quality sides who press high up the pitch. Andy Carroll or Danny Welbeck will need a high work rate to chase early balls – as will the wingers will be, who, defending deep, will need to make the transition from defence to attack quickly by getting up the pitch quickly.

One of the reasons Liverpool did not suit Hodgson’s tactics is because of the lack of pace at the club at the time – Liverpool’s wide players like Maxi Rodriguez and Dirk Kuyt were suited to starting higher up the pitch and putting their movement to good use rather than running long distances to support a lonely Fernando Torres, however the fact that England possess quick players like Ashley Young could mean this is not a big problem. It could still be very exhausting if England are in desperate need of a goal. In the 2010 Europa League final Fulham’s Clint Dempsey (who had to come on for Zamora due to injury) and Gera became increasingly isolated as Fulham’s wide players tired and couldn’t provide support quickly enough, putting a lot of pressure on Fulham’s back four as they had to endure wave after wave of attacks.

In terms of the defence, as mentioned before they may be sitting very deep which is maybe why John Terry was picked over Rio Ferdinand. A better “back to the wall defender”, Terry heads, tackles and blocks which is all you really need to do when playing deep in your own half, but he may find life difficult if England were to play higher up as he struggles when the ball is played in the channel for a quick striker. The fullbacks will not be that aggressive and will probably only get forward one at a time.

To conclude, England’s lone striker and wingers could be the key in quick counter attacks. Large sections of the media were disappointed at Hodgson’s appointment but his strategy may well work since England have the likes of Welbeck, Carroll, Theo Walcott and Young to execute it.

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3 thoughts on “Hodgson’s England: what can we expect?

  1. I really starting to doubt whether we will make it out of our group. England look very poor to me. We look good in defense but poor in midfield and attack. Gerrard and Parker are a poor CM partnership, neither can pass the ball very well at the best of times, never mind when under pressure. While Gerrard lacks any positional discipline that his position needs. Both Milner and Downing lack any sort of threat, and are both defensive wingers, showing the lack of confidence Hodgson has in England. And Young is poor in central positions, he can’t keep the ball and wastes chances in that zone, he makes a great winger, but is wasted in the centre.

    1. Yeah, agree with you on midfield, especially in relation to Gerrard. While I think Parker is a good player in that role, Gerrard is only really effective when he has a bit of a free role, and he can make those ‘lung bursting’ runs into the box and shoot from distance (this is the role he played in the best season of his career, 2008/09). As you mentioned, he doesn’t have the discipline nor the creativity (as we saw recently in the FA cup final) to be a good holding midfielder.

      Because of this, its surprising that, as appears likely, Hodgson will start Gerrard in the holding midfield role against France, especially given Rooney will miss the game, and his position (which is Gerrard’s best) is available. If he plays Young, as expected, then, as you said, England lose a good winger, and are then probably going to have to play the extemely ordinary Downing.

      Though I was one of the few people who actually thought England made the right choice in appointing Hodgson, I feel that, along with his squad selection, this will not be the wisest decision.

  2. “It could still be very exhausting if England are in desperate need of a goal.”

    Very true. If England concede, then a side set up to contain France’s fluid front three could have a very hard time!

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