This week, England carried on with its take on 4-3-3. The nation was jubilant with the late come-back versus Germany but I still see each unit – the defence, the midfield and the attack playing in isolation.
In between some great goals and nice link up for two other great chances, there was a lot of incoherence when the ball broke down and not-so great defenders being left vulnerable by the rest of the team.
What looked most impressive about the performance was the fairly galvanised effort to press the German’s high-up. I’ve heard it said and seen it written that Germany’s back six couldn’t really cope with it. But the reality is that Germany still had 63 % of possession, scored two goals in open play, and had another incorrectly ruled out.
In short, the press got too much good press, so I decided to put a Hodgson-style dampener on the occasion and highlight a few things. I stated early on in this series that 4-2-3-1 is by far the most used set-up in the Premier League. It’s therefore unsurprising that learning something new in the short time together during international breaks isn’t ideal.
I wasn’t convinced by the midfield trio of Dier, Henderson and Dele Alli. Here’s why:
The whole game reminded me of Everton’s transition from risk-free effectiveness/embarrassment-avoidance to flying football folly over the last 3-4 years.
It’s ace when it goes for you in the last minute and the excitement of dynamic forward play is so damn refreshing. But it doesn’t half get on your nerves when a bit of long-term reality starts to kick in. The potential mix up front does look exciting. But unless you build something solid, it’ll just be a different path to the same mediocrity.
Don’t rest on your laurels with misplaced self-congratulation. Keep striving to improve. That’s what the best do.
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