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England go Back to the Future

September 4th, 2010 by · No Comments · Features, Football

StevieG and the boys pop out for quiet drink

As a scholar of football tactics [no, really] I know that there have been points in the history of the game when the received wisdom is rendered obsolete overnight. What is striking is that English Football has invariably tried to ignore it for as long as possible. So, here we are again.

What have the following teams currently got in common? Spain, Holland, Germany, Brazil, even Inter Milan? They play interesting football, they are successful [some relatively] and they play 4-2-3-1. All of them. Formations are just a reference point when a game is in full flow but the key to this approach, philosophy if you like, is the ‘2’. For Alonso and Busquets read Van Pummel/De Jong-Fuey, Silva/Melo, Khedira/Schweinsteiger and Zanetti/Cambiasso.

But let’s have none of that foreign muck for plucky England.

Watching England play Bulgaria last night was like watching in Black and White. No one plays like that anymore. Not one of the top EPL teams play 4-4-2. How much evidence does DonFab need before he can see that this England team are footballing dinosaurs.

In interviews this week the manager, losing his cool under repeated criticism, blurted that England will play ‘in the modern style’. Well if he meant ‘modernist’ then, yes, England did play like something from the 1920’s. Next, embracing Surrealism perhaps, he channelled the spirit of Mike Bassett and announced that everyone plays 9- fucking-1 anyway.

Tactics aside, the chap has also been given a golden opportunity to fix the squad. Without having to drop Terry, James, Lampard, Carragher, King, Ferd, Cole J, and the rest of the semi-retired, permanently crocked and just plain stupid, he has been able to promote Hart, Johnson A, Walcott and some defenders the right side of 30. He must make sure Dads Army don’t come back.

Last night should also have been a last chance for Gerrard to prove he has the smarts for international football. Well, once again we saw his chicken. It had no head.

I’ve not had the heart to read the Tabs today but I can imagine a 4-0 win will have them tumescent. But, let us pause and consider that Bulgaria share the world rankings [mid 40s] with Burkina Faso, Israel and are considered worse than, gulp, Scotland.

Lurching from the past [4-4-2] to the future [9-1?] is no fix DonFab. Just have a little look around you in the present and the answer is set out before you. Here’s a young team with potential and a proven tactical template. Be in the ‘now’, man.

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