With the European Championships fast approaching , it’s time for international managers to make their choices for the tournament and figure out who will be in their starting elevens. For England and Roy Hodgson, that is a lot harder than in previous years due to the extreme amount of talent we seem to have in our ranks. Now, before I continue, I must stress that I am nowhere near as qualified as Hodgson is with the squad but my credentials on Football Manager stand up against the best! That being said, let’s try and figure out how Mr Hodgson will have the Three Lions purring in France this summer.
The goalkeeper position is set in stone, at least unless Joe Hart falls foul of injury. The Manchester City stopper is the established number one, so he will be the starter unless something prevents him from doing so. The back four is just a question of the full-backs, with Nathaniel Clyne, Kyle Walker, Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand being the preferred pairings. The heart of the defence will be Everton duo Phil Jagielka and John Stones along side Chris Smalling and Gary Cahil, to the surprise of absolutely no one.
This is where it gets tough for Roy in the midfield. What I would suggest is play to the strengths of the league and the squad. The squad is littered with Tottenham and Liverpool players, who both play a 4-2-3-1 formation, so why not utilise that? Eric Dier alongside James Milner would give good protection to the defence and allow the attackers to just create chances and do what they do best. Dele Alli and Adam Lallana give England the creativity and energy they need to close down the opposition.
This is where it could get controversial (as controversies in footballing opinions go) and that is to start Wayne Rooney, Dele Alli and Adam Lallana in the midfield three, behind the lone striker of Harry Kane. What? No Jamie Vardy? No Raheem Sterling, not even Daniel Sturridge or Jack Wilshere? Well, no. I don’t see why those players (with the exception of Vardy) should start? Raheem Sterling hasn’t been consistent enough or even good enough over the past two years, Daniel Sturridge doesn’t really fit in with the lone man being the first line of defence and Jack Wilshere just cannot be trusted with his injury record. Taking Wilshere would be a space wasted when instead a player such as Danny Drinkwater, who has played the season for the Premier League champions could take his place, he should not miss out because of Wilshere’s reputation.
I can see why people would argue that Vardy should start and that is a valid argument but take a look at the past two friendlies. Against Germany when he was used as a late substitution, he caused havoc in the back line because the tired German legs’ couldn’t keep up with his pace. Fast forward to the game against the Netherlands and after his goal, the Dutch figured out that if you close him down in twos, chances are he won’t get past them. With Kane, he has shown that he works well on his own and can bring in the trio behind him with his superb way of holding the ball up and being able to play to feet.
I know that not everyone reading this will agree with what I’m saying. Some people would take Andy Carroll whilst others would prefer to take someone like Jermaine Defoe. Both have their merits and no one is really wrong but what we must realise with England going into Euro 2016 is that we are not better than most teams in terms of playing the ball. We cannot keep the ball for 80% of the game but we can soak up pressure and hit teams with pace.
We must play to our strengths and take a look at what clubs are the majority in our squad. Tottenham and Liverpool are the majority, so play to their strengths and why shouldn’t they? Spurs are going to at least finish in the top three of the Premier League and Liverpool still have a chance of winning the Europa League, so let us reap the benefits of their success.