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England: A time for change

May 11, 2010 - United Kingdom - Football - Fabio Capello - England World Cup Squad Announcement - Wembley Stadium - 11/5/10..England manager Fabio Capello during the press conference.

By John Brandon.

After two deeply disappointing displays so far, it is time for change. It is now time for Fabio Capello to ditch the rigid, boring 4 – 4 – 2 and opt for the system that all the players are comfortable with. It is time to play a system that all the top sides like Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool play.

It is time to play a system that will get the best out of England’s world class players such as Lampard, Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Joe Cole and of course the talisman Wayne Rooney. The formation is 4 – 2 – 3 – 1. This formation encourages positive movement from all players. There is more freedom with this system. The two holding midfielders allow the 4 attacking players to move with absolute freedom and drift in to areas that are difficult for defenders to pick up. The system also allows both full backs a free licence to join in the attack. This is a key tactic if any team are to win a world cup.

The formation that England have played in all of their games under Fabio Capello is too easy to play against. This has been apparent so far in this World Cup with both USA and Algeria finding it easy to play against. The opposition teams are encouraging the defenders to look long for the big target man and are then smothering the flick on or crowding out Wayne Rooney when he receives the ball from the target man. This plan will be employed by Slovenia on Wednesday and that is why change is needed.

The flexible formation 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 keeps the opposition guessing. Teams who play this formation can attack in all different directions. Attacks can happen down the left, down the right, over the top or play through the middle, all of this can only be positive for England.

As the England squad was announced people wondered why Fabio Capello was going to take Michael Carrick to the world cup. Now it seems a genius decision from the Italian maestro as Michael Carrick would fit this system superbly as the second holding midfielder along with Gareth Barry. Michael Carrick plays in this position for his club side Manchester United, so Capello wouldn’t have to spend three days coaching Carrick on how to play this position.

The three players with a licence to roam and join attacks from all directions would be Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard. Chelsea and Liverpool both play this system, so again no coaching would be needed by Capello. There would just be a little tinkering needed for when England are trying to win the ball back, high up the pitch. Something Capello is extremely fond of.

Playing in the position of lone striker would be Wayne Rooney. He has mastered this position for Manchester United. Playing as the lone striker is a position which he has scored over 30 goals against all opposition home and abroad this season. The position brings out the best in him and makes him happy. A happy confident Wayne Rooney would equal a happy and confident England.

It is apparent that confidence is low, extremely low and changing from the rigid 4 – 4 – 2 in to the flexible 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 formation and giving the England players  freedom and showing that he trusts them as individuals means that a positive result against Slovenia is more likely.



  1. John G

    June 22, 2010 at 10:18 am

    I’m right, aren’t I? This article was written by a 15-year-old for 10-year-olds…

  2. Bill

    June 22, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I think there is change required in the England formation for better results


  3. ThomAlexander

    June 22, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Surely the change should be that the players do what they are told, rather than get upset at playing a slight variation in formation to what they are used to?

    I agree that the formation could be better for better results, but Capello got good results with his formation during qualification. Suddenly the World Cup arrives, some players spit their dummies out, and it’s a “rigid” and “inflexible” formation, rather than the formation that the manager had worked on over the past two years.

  4. Mark

    June 22, 2010 at 11:37 am

    What a crap article…you wank on about needing a change in formation because it will produce better results without actually giving any evidence or reasons to support this (other than it allows more freedom – really – how so? thats because you dont know and youre talking out your arse)

    Also – you must be one of the dumbest people on the planet if you actually think England are playing a rigid anything let alone a rigin 4-4-2…

    Perhaps you should stop expressing an opinion because you dont have the f***** brain power for it…

    • Football Talk

      June 22, 2010 at 11:46 am

      @ Mark.

      If you feel you have a better insight please write an article and publish it for others to look at. What evidence do you have that supports your argument that England DONT play a rigid 4-4-2? From what we’ve seen from them so far, not a lot i guess.

      The point the writer is making is one that 99% of England fans i know are also making. That all the top clubs (who the england players play for) have ditched 4-4-2 in favour of 1 up top, with support from an attacking fluid 3, with 2 more defensive minded players protecting the back 4, who also cover for the 2 attack minded full-backs. Anyone i speak to also suggests this is how England should line-up, we don’t have the players for 4-4-2.

    • John Brandon

      June 22, 2010 at 7:20 pm

      Listen, there is nothing wrong with expressing an opinion, can you do it though without swearing?

      The article is supposed to spark conversation and talking points. You are not supposed to agree with any of it, if you wish, it’s nothing personal but dont just shout rubbish, without backing it up.

      Try and write a comment in reply that puts your point across without making you sound so aggressive.

      Trust me I have the brain power and am far from dumb.

      I look forward to a stimulating response from you………

  5. OBB

    June 22, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I think the change should be the players. We need a good clear out. It really annoys me when people talk about the manager (who I admit has made mistakes), it is clear that the players are simply not good enough. i have never seen a squad with so many caps that has achieved so little, it is practically the same team that could not even managed to qualify for the Euro’s. They have been poor for 10 yeas now, have had their chance, its time to get rid of the old and bring in the new like the Germans have

  6. DY

    June 22, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    John Brandon, Rooney has no form at all, what loan striker you are talking about? Also, this is not Chelsea, Lampard can’t perform. Gerard scored England’s only goal when he moved forward but was later restricted as left midfielder.

  7. Tony

    June 22, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I don’t like it when people say that Gerrard is restricted at left midfield. Gerrard doesn’t play well there purely because he doesn’t want to play well there and stay there. Look a Joe Cole – he wants to play central, and never gets to (I wouldn’t play him there either) because he has played well on left. It is back to the playground with kids letting goals in so that no one would pick them as goalkeeper. England should come first. If he is would class, he should be able to play across midfield with that ability. Zidane, Figo, Stoichkov, Hagi – all world class attacking midfield players who were played of left or right for much of their career. Lampard can only play for Chelsea where team is built around him.

  8. Tony

    June 22, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Some good comments here. Merely changing the formation alone is not the real problem. It has been painful, but I think it is a blessing in disguise because we have learnt about ourselves. It could easily have been a win vs USA, plus 2 draws – with poor performances – but the points and straight forward qualification for 2nd round would have hidden the issues – Meet Germany and get hammered 4-0. This way, I hope, we can sort out the performance level, the intensity, the courage (shoot Gerrard, shoot!) in order to get at least to quarters.

  9. john

    June 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    A time for change. It is indeed time to change. Get rid of the under performing preening prima donnas that have played for England for years and achieved nothing. Yet feel they should call the shots and not the coach. I say after the world cup out all the 30+ aged players and start afresh, the
    Germans did it and I don’t think it has done them any hard at all.

  10. denny

    June 23, 2010 at 7:04 am

    Its time for England to perform their true abilty..Yet, if Capello wanna stick to 4-4-2, he needs to select either Gerrard or Lampard in middle.. They both cant play together in middle. I’ll go 4-3-2-1…

    johnson, terry, upson, cole
    carrick, barry, lampard
    gerrard, joe cole

    all the defends stay back with barry n carrick take charge of the holding role..the other sud show their attacking talent & score the goals we needed..

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