World Cup Lessons from England's Defeats to Chile and Germany at Wembley

Glenn HoddleFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19:  Mario Goetze of Germany holds off Jack Wilshere of England during the international friendly match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on November 19, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

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England have experienced two disappointing results, against Chile and Germany, but it goes beyond the scorelines. Roy Hodgson's men could not maintain possession, and if you cannot keep the ball at Wembley it needs addressing—as it will be a major problem against the top, top teams at the World Cup in Brazil.

The German team were just too technically astute for the England team. They looked as though they were going through a training exercise—the way they kept the ball in little tight triangles. It is something we have got to try to emulate, because right now we are giving the ball back too easily.

I am also concerned about England's inflexibility within their 4-4-2 formation. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19:  Chris Smalling of England points during the international friendly match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on November 19, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

I am most worried by the defence. Chris Smalling did OK, despite being criticised for the goal, but it's not about Smalling—it's about the defence as a whole and England's central defensive partnerships in particular, and how they will cope with top quality opposition.

No disrespect to the German team at Wembley, but it wasn’t even their first-choice strike combination. England will face far more potent attacks in Brazil next summer.

Hodgson's first-choice pairing seems to be Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, but there is no natural centre-half for the left hand channel—no naturally left-sided central defender. This is something I have been banging on about for some time now. We must develop two-footed footballers for the next generation coming through.

Michael Dawson of Tottenham deserves to be looked at, as I pointed out in my column last week. Joleon Lescott is left-footed but is not getting enough football with his club and so has dropped out of the picture.

John Terry...well, yes, I do feel he should be asked to come out of international retirement. He will add his vast experience to the back-line, and that will add a large degree of stability to England's defence.

If we are still scratching around trying to find the right combination in central defence then, purely on a football front, Terry would help solve the problem. He isn’t blessed with blistering pace, as we know, but what he lacks in pace he makes up with know-how, and organisational powers.

Of course going back to Terry is a difficult one for Roy—I can appreciate that.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19:  Joe Hart of England points during the international friendly match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on November 19, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

At least it was a good night for Joe Hart against Germany. He had a great game, made a couple of exceptional saves and that will give him confidence going back to his club. The Germans created a lot of chances and Hart was up to the task.

He still has to work on his decision making, however, and once again he rushed out of his box at the wrong moment, but that will improve.

As for England's attack, my view is that we still lack a real goalscorer of international class. Jermain Defoe is a goalscorer, but he isn’t playing enough in the Premier League, and so has been on the fringe with England.

The solution is that England need goals from lots of different positions. For that reason I would be inclined to go with Ross Barkley, who can deliver goals from midfield, than even Jack Wilshere or Tom Cleverley.

As for the system, my question is whether the team is flexible enough within a 4-4-2 system, especially when faced with the top teams in the World Cup.

When you consider the German team was devoid of so many of their top players, yet those who played looked outstanding, it illustrates the lack of depth in the England ranks.

That is why I have been saying, ever since we qualified, that we have to take a very realistic view about England's chances at the World Cup.

I am now revising my view that Spain are Europe's biggest threat. Having seen them at Wembley, without their best player, I think Germany have more chance of lifting the trophy.



* is an exciting new website where Glenn Hoddle reveals how kids from all over the world can enter the X-Factor-style Zapstarz, the former England manager's search for a new generation of footballing talent.