The England national team should not screw up the World Cup 2018
England went through the qualifying stage of the World Cup 2018 without defeats, with victories in 8 of 10 games. However, there are no bright prospects for the Three Lions. The most frequent adjective in the English speaking media about the team’s victories is “uninspiring”. What is the problem with the England national team and what solutions the FA are ready to offer?
England National team lack mature players
So, in order to give a medical prescription, you have to make a diagnosis first. It is necessary to answer couple questions here. What prevents the England team from making their game more strong and why they have so many chances to relegate at an early stage?
Firstly, the squad itself. Many people say the current generation is not weaker than the previous “gold” (with Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Carragher, Ferdinand and Terry). But it is not true to the full extent. The English had a balance and top players in each line (except the goalkeeper) 10 years ago. However, no coach could find a proper approach to the players. There are no mature players nowadays (just maybe Cahill and Lallana). But there are goalkeepers and future stars: Stones, Alli, Kane, Sterling, Dier, Winks and Rashford. The first problem of these players is maturity: these guys’ best and prime performance will not come clearly in 2018.
No bright leaders
In addition, the team has no bright leaders. The closest to this title is Cahill, one of the weakest Chelsea’s links. By the way, you could put a person in a psychiatric hospital for such words about John Terry. Henderson is the second one. But the Merseyside’s cap is still far from being like Gerrard. He needs to gain leadership and authority to improve his performance. And the best England forward Kane is not yet charismatic enough to get the team going and drag everything on himself. Moreover, the head coach is not able to handle talents of that level.
Career of Southgate
The Southgate’s coaching career consists of Middlesbrough and the England youth team. He worked there with many current top players, but couldn’t even make it into the next round. Gareth is not able to make tactical changes during the match course and go through strong opponents’ defense. His opponents can easily take advantage of the British low defense at the World Cup 2018 and get hold of the vital points.
The FA has to change the team before the World Cup 2018
Any adequate person understands the FA needs to do something if they do not want to screw up the World Cup again. The first option is to change the coach. Southgate is not ready for such tournaments. He does not know how to manage the team and does not feel the situation in the field. Henderson and Winks were in the center against the Lithuanians. They played in their clubs on the positions “six” and “eight” respectively. The management needs to free themselves from stereotypes: the national team needs an English coach. They should call for the best available ones to the end of the World Cup 2018 . Such top coaches as Carlo Ancelotti, Thomas Tuchel, Luis Enrique, Laurent Blanc, Walter Mazzarri are free now. Communication and adaptiveness but not the reputation are in favor of the latter two. Blanc played in Manchester United, Mazzarri coached Watford with three defenders’ scheme. We will talk about this useful three defenders’ scheme later. Each of them is able to put together a stronger team than now. Each has better tactical training.
Changing a coach, is it risky?
However, changing the coach after the qualification stage is a risky step. So, it’s very likely England will have to go through a group stage with Southgate as a head coach. What can Gareth do to fight the opponents more easily?
The answer is very simple. It is enough for the coach to look at the main Premier League trend of the last year – the scheme with three defenders. In England, more teams use 3-4-2-1 (sometimes 3-5-2). Players know their positions, their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, because they have to play against such teams 10 or 15 times a year. Southgate uses this scheme only in friendly matches. Anyway, England used three defenders scheme in the game with Lithuania, for the first time in 11 years. The last experiment was in the ill-fated selection for EURO 2008. The McLaren’s team lost 0-2 in Zagreb, but a pair of utility forwards Rooney – Crouch played then. Kane with his captain’s armband has got two insides for help (Alli and Rashford). You just need to pick the squad properly so the players know perfectly well how to work in such a system. Only a couple of strokes are needed to smooth out the shortcomings.
Who would cover defence and center-field positions?
Gary Cahill can play in defense as he did the entire season on the left. John Stones is always in possession of the ball. Jones / Smalling, Harry Maguire or Michael Keane can go to the field. Each of them played at least once in this three defenders’ scheme. Danny Rose and Kyle Walker know fullbacks positions perfectly. Pochettino trained them physically so much they are ready to run even180 minutes. Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier are able to keep the field’s center. They are used to cover a long distance. Both are ready for defensive work and to send the ball forward for a running. There are more options for the center midfielders’ position: Livermore, the same Winks, Drinkwater, even Wilshere.
Frontline of the English team 2018
The forward’s position is occupied by Harry Kane. He’s got an incredible shape, scoring and advantage. Good position change for the extreme forwards running leaves no chance to Vardy, Sturridge and Rashford. Dele Alli and Adam Lallana will go with the attacking company. Dele does his work perfectly in Tottenham. And Lallana should become the main creator and attacks leader for the Three Lions. In other words, he should replace Christian Eriksen to Alli and Kane. Rashford, Sturridge, Lingard, Sterling and Oxlade-Chamberlain will be ready to substitute the first team players. Substitutability and universality will be important features of the team. They will need only to use a three defender’s scheme as the main one and play with that structure in the remaining friendly matches.
Defeats are considered in friendly matches
The latter option is the craziest, but it seems the most likely. The team should be happy with the qualification without defeats. They have to consider defeats in friendly matches (where the three defenders play) as a sign the classic 4 is much better for the national team. England team fans can only hope for the FA wisdom. It’s better to believe the usual game scheme in major tournaments for two years will be interrupted. So, there is much hope England will really be able to break into the 1/8 finals or even the quarterfinals.