England has a chance if they stick to their guns
Roy Hodgson took charge of his second England international yesterday and the outcome was identical to the outing in Oslo. The three lions sneaked a 1-0 victory but were unconvincing in possession and posed little threat to the opposing goal. Despite this, England were comfortable at the back and held their shape very well for the full 90 minutes. It looked like a well drilled group of players who were all pulling in the same direction for their new manager.
When Hodgson took over from Fabio Capello, many sections of the media were uninspired due to his style of football, but this is exactly what England need at the precise moment in time. Expectations in the press and public have been lowered and there now seems to be a more supportive attitude towards the team going into a major tournament, where there used to be criticism.
England will be taking notes from Chelsea’s Champions League winning formula as they demonstrated yesterday. They were disciplined at the back against a very good, energetic Belgian front line that included Chelsea new boy Eden Hazard. It was the perfect warm up for the France game, as there is no doubt that England will concede the initiative and will most likely be chasing shadows for large periods of the game. This won’t be a problem though, if the three lions can put in a performance like the one yesterday, as Belgium dominated possession without threatening and England had one shot on target and scored through Danny Welbeck.
On a largely successful evening for England, there were two fresh injury concerns to both Gary Cahill and John Terry. Gary Cahill was the victim of a cynical push in the back, which caused him to collide with his goalkeeper Joe Hart; the England centre back left the field with a jaw injury and Hodgson will now hope that it isn’t a break. John Terry hobbled off in the second half with a hamstring problem and if both players are ruled out of the Euro’s, Roy could be facing a slightly embarrassing phone call to Rio Ferdinand in the coming days.
England certainly have their injury problems going into these European Championships but there is still good reason to believe that they will be able to pull off a great campaign this time around. They will head into the tournament with a new philosophy that will frustrate most teams into submission if performed from the first whistle to last. Chelsea proved this on the club scene and to prove that it can be done in this exact competition, Greece won in the 2004 championships in Portugal by playing the same sort of football. The most encouraging sign of all is that the players seem to be pulling in the same direction for Roy Hodgson, and this is vital for team moral. The response to the new coaching methods have been fantastic and Roy’s decision to make Steven Gerrard captain has appeared to go down a treat in the camp.
So it’s so far so good for Roy’s new era as England manager, and as they head into the Euro 2012 tournament there seems to be optimism growing around this group of players. Let’s just hope they can stick to the game plan and take inspiration from the Champions League winners Chelsea FC.