Hodgson's England Struggle: Lack of Tactical Flexibility, Lack of Talent to Pick

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterMay 30, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 29:  Roy Hodgson manager of England looks thoughtful during the International Friendly match between England and the Republic of Ireland at Wembley Stadium on May 29, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

England's disappointing 1-1 draw with Republic of Ireland on Wednesday night only served to lessen the belief in Roy Hodgson's regime.

The performance from the home side was dour at Wembley, with their only goal of the game arriving in fortuitous circumstances: Frank Lampard tucked home a Daniel Sturridge pass after a few lucky deflections.

I was present for the game and the subsequent press conference, and Hodgson's responses and demeanor told the whole story.

"I'd be hard-pushed to say too much negative about the players in our team," he told perplexed reporters.

In response to some probing questions over tactics and team selection, the former West Bromwich Albion boss asked any journalists travelling with the team to Brazil for their next friendly to bring a pair of boots with them just in case.

The truth is, Roy had very few players to choose from, and that's not entirely down to a blind selection process or the mounting injuries and retirements.

It's down to a complete lack of options.

According to John Edwards of The Daily Mail, the English Premier League ranks last in Europe's major leagues when it comes to housing home-grown talent.


France 60%
Germany 47%
Italy  46%
England 36%

Just 36 percent of the players plying their trade in the EPL are eligible for the English national team, almost half of what World and European champions Spain can boast.

Italy, in fourth, are a clear 10 percentage points above England in the rankings, while Germany and France also boast a higher domestic growth. It's no surprise that the teams higher than England have all won a major tournament in the past two decades or so, while the Three Lions remain serial disappointers.

This creates a tough situation, and it's one Hodgson appears pretty happy to hide behind.

But it's not the entire problem, and considering the situation, it's difficult to believe the right man for the job is in place.

The 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 setup against Ireland was crying out for the manager's key player: Jack Wilshere. Unfortunately, with the Arsenal man injured, Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick struggled.

The system should have been changed to suit the players on the field but it wasn't, and it proves tactical inflexibility is just as much a problem as the limited talent pool to choose from.

Leighton Baines has outshone Ashley Cole on every level for the past 12 months, but does anyone truly expect the Everton man to start in Brazil—should they make it—if Cole is fit?

It's one part limited talent pool, one part inflexibility and one part lack of willingness to gamble on lesser-known names.

Together, it makes a deadly cocktail that ensures England simply cannot succeed.

The Premier League's big spending has damaged the national team, and the Three Lions will never be successful if their top division remains in its current state.

It now looks a formality that Hodgson's reign with England will end in disappointment, and unless the the next manager is a tactically reactive superstar, he stands as little chance as the current incumbent.


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