Sunday, 13 June 2010

Forget Pace, Go With Guile And Power

The dilemma we face is how to select a team that can live with and beat the best in this World Cup. Capello has been lumping all his chips on pace so far, his answer to the riddle seems to be the opposite of Zola's: get a quick right footed winger wide right and we will score, seems to be the extent of the tactical thinking.

But his formation is causing problems because we are not getting the best out of our five best players. Both Lampard and Gerrard are most effective when playing in advanced positions and we need to get both into the box as often as possible. Rooney is shattered and needs to conserve his energy. He scored every one of his goals last season inside the box, but last night he dropped too deep and wasted far too much crucial energy closing USA defenders. Meanwhile, with conventional wingers in the team, we are not seeing Ashley Cole and Johnson to their best advantage, getting down the flanks and sending over crosses. Both are attacking full backs so why do we need wingers?

The solution? Gareth Barry and Joe Cole. Barry is a pivotal figure in this England team. Had he played last night, Rob Green would not have made that mistake because Dempsey would have been closed. There was a void in front of our central defenders all night, as there has been in all the games that Barry has missed. He has a superb pass completion ratio and wins a high percentage of his tackles. He does the simple things well and lets other play around him.

Cole is the opposite. Where Barry is Mr Efficiency, Cole is mercurial. You can't risk him in any form of defensive role, just like you can't risk Diamanti. So what do you do? You create a formation where he doesn't have to maintain any sort of defensive discipline. You say, get out there and play - be our Messi!

How? Well after thinking hard about this, you set up in a 4-1-3-1-1 formation like this:

Hart (or James);

Johnson, Terry, Dawson, A. Cole;


Lampard, Gerrard, Milner;

Joe Cole;


Why? Well with Cole, Gerrard and Milner you have three players who can work the flanks but, at the same time, you don't have somebody in the way of Johnson and Ashley, blocking their marauding runs forward.

Meanwhile, Rooney has responsibility to lead the line, his best position now. We need him in the box, finishing, confident that others will create opportunities for him.

Joe Cole has the guile to unpick defences. Gerrard, Lampard and Milner have the power to boss the midfield and break into the box and score. All three can also smash them home from distance. At the back, Barry can screen and protect Terry and Dawson and reads the game well enough to see danger before it happens. When we don't have the ball, we play 4-5-1, when we do have it, we have a multiplicity of attacking options.


Sav said...

You obviously gave this a lot more thought than Capello. I'll go with you taking over when they suck him in a few weeks time. HF for England!

Seriously, I think that what you write makes a lot more sense than anything Capello has shown us so far. But his biggest mistake is not taking to South Africa Adam Jonhson, Theo Walcot and known stiker such as Abdonlahor or Bent. Rooney on his own is not a solution that works in international football.

Hammersfan said...

Bent and Ivebonkedawhore are not good enough mate. I agree 100% about Adam Johnson. He is picked ahead of SWP by Man City for pity's sake! Walcott? Interesting one. Looked crap in the warm up games!

fred149 said...

i think tht shows us why parker shudve been taken to south africa i for 1 dont rate capello at all some people think cuz we won all but 1 match in the qualifiers he was amazing but did any1 see the teams we had not a reltivly hard group now was it green wouldnt of made the mistake if gerrard didnt get turned twice within a minute by dempsey

Luke Eliot said...

Looks like a good team to me tho feel you're being a bit harsh towards Lennon. I'd include him instead of Milner.
On another note, just seen an utterly bizarre stat - in the Serbia-Ghana game, both the goalies play for WIGAN!! And neither are first choice!! Puts our No 1 dilemmas in perspctive!

Stani Army said...

Still think the cup's ours HF? From what I have seen so far, even Soufrica and Korea played better football. My point about the donkey-ness of the defense is beginning to be realised now. Slow and cumbersome, I expect them to make a number of errors.

I don't know what you see in Barry HF!!! How can you say that if Barry was playing that would not have happened? If Dempsey did that to Gerrard, he could have done it to Barry. Barry will spend 90 minutes falling over the light ball HF :)

I think you're being over-critical of Capello as you was with Zola mate. We have to remember what he has to work with. It's frustrating, but we simply do not have the talent. Did you see the way Argentina moved the ball? Capello must think what he's got himself in to when he watches the likes of them. I do agree that we could have done with Johnson. Walcott and Agbonlahor will never be consistent international players I'm afraid.

Sav said...

Point taken about the quality of players available for selection. But still Capello put out a rather dysfunctional team yesterday. Not many people commented on that preferring blaming Green for all that went wrong with that game. Green has made this sort of mistake many times with West Ham as well (I am not defending him). Remember Bolton last year for example? But England's problems are far deeper than that. Starting from the fact that we lack the quality players in key positions. Capello however has not passed his exams in the first test yesterday. I don't assume that someone is good until proven otherwise. That is why I was also critical of Zola.

Stani Army said...

I think justification can be made for many of Capello's selections. What we must then judge him on is how he reacts. What I mean is if he drops Green for the next game, we must commend him for it, or if he changes the formation and pace of play to incorporate Cole then once again, we must commend him for it.

Now the reasons why Green was there in the first place: Firstly, James' injuries meant that Green got a run of international games which he never would have otherwise. Even now, James was still getting niggles so Capello probably thought let's continue with Green. Secondly, Hart's inexperience meant Green would win out against him too. This was then reasonable justification for Capello to continue with Green. Of course, he now has justification to drop him which I think Capello will use.

The other selections were also quite justifiable. Rio's injury meant he had to play King really. King's injury meant Carragher. Milner had to be given a go but I believe he was taken off for his yellow rather than not being fit enough. Heskey I think worked hard enough to justify his selection. Maybe the one thing Capello probably got wrong was putting SWP on rather than Joe Cole yet he can probably use the pace argument to justify that. Once again, if Capello changes the style and picks Cole, fair enough to him, he has realised and adapted.

I think one thing Capello has on his side that Zola did not is his c.v. It is very, very good so I'm still inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. I think the next team selection will give us a clear insight into the kind of manager he is. I think you'll warm to him.