Yes, Skybet… a lot of changes necessary!
Lets hope numbers are just number for Gareth Southgate, as the lineup they incite is less than inspiring for England.
The Problem? The formation is defensive by nature. Call it three at the back if you’d like, but Rose and Walker will be responsible for a lot of defensive coverage especially with elite teams like their group stage likely winner Belgium, who can spread their offence out wide.
Furthermore, one of the biggest puppeteers in the Premier League, Dele Alli, is seemingly missing from this formation. Alli, who’s 14 goals and 17 assists in all competitions this season (50 games) is a talent Southgate really can’t do without in this tournament.
So how would I line up England? Thanks for asking!
4-2-3-1 – That’s my formation, and here’s why:
Sitting two defensive midfielders like Henderson and Dier in front of your back four allows for explosive players like Walker and Rose to burst up the wings in attack. Dier, who has played extensive time at CB for Tottenham, could actually slip back into a centreback role should he need to depending on the situation. Defensively a 4-2-3-1 provides fluidity, and seeing as how half of the team is from Tottenham, the chemistry should be there already!
“Pope!? Why Pope?” Well statistically it makes sense:
Clean sheets – 12
Goals against – 35
Goals allowed per game – 1
Clean sheets – 6
Goals against – 61
Goal allowed per game – 1.7
Clean sheets: 10
Goals against: 58
Goals against per game: 1.5
Why not reward Pope with international playing time when he was the better keeper this season? He helped Burnley to an improbably 7th place finish in the Premier League, and took advantage of the goal keeper situation as he never let go of the reigns, making Tom Heaton the odd man out. He is also the most senior keeper on the squad at 26 (Butland 25, Pickford 24) and while there may not be much between them age and experience matter when the world’s eyes are upon you!
So, just one striker in that 4-2-3-1? Yup, but four attackers in total. England’s skill depth may be mostly in their attacking midfielders, so why not emphasize that? When you have pace mixed with skill, which Lingard, Alli, and Sterling all have, you can force the opposition to keep players back to deal with those attacking options. Plus, all three of those players have played in advanced attacking roles this season, so Kane would be FAR from isolated up top in this formation.
That leaves two pacey strikers on the bench – Jamie Vardy, and Marcus Rashford. Well, yes but life isn’t fair boys! Realistically, both could fit into this formation as either a striker option (Vardy, more likely) or one of the attacking midfielders (Rashford here). The presence of these players, and what the hell, i’ll include Danny Welbeck here too, is that they can all feature in this attacking four formation. Outside of Kane who should be a lock to start every game for England, the rest are interchangeable which is a good thing.
So why won’t it happen? Because Gareth Southgate is too scared to lose to play this type of attacking football. Instead, Southgate will rely on playing essentially seven defenders including wingbacks and defensive midfielders, while hoping that counter attacking with his three forwards will be enough to win matches. It’s a losers mentality in my mind, plus England has such good forward who are young and exciting. Why waste talent for the sake of fear of losing?