Just like the last four matches they have played (not including an abandoned match back in 1995), England and Ireland played to another 1-1 draw in a match between the two at Wembley Stadium. The story should and will be that England, under Roy Hodgson, continues to play an outdated formation and as a result gives fans of the national team little to no reason to feel confident of success at next summer’s World Cup.
The starting eleven for England included skilled attacking players like Frank Lampard, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Daniel Sturridge, and Wayne Rooney. As the game started out, England settled into a 4-4-2 formation when one expected to see a 4-3-3 setup with Sturridge as the central forward flanked by Rooney on the left and Walcott on the right.
Yet Hodgson would stick to his outdated and rigid way of thinking with the 4-4-2 England lined up in along with the traditional method of playing the formation. This means that England played with two straight lines that do not give attacking players much opportunity to be creative and exploit open space. When playing against an Ireland team that is not much of a threat attacking wise, you cede any advantage you may have as a result.
By playing a standard and traditional 4-4-2 in the way they did versus Ireland, the team lacked being able to break effectively as there were no real passing alternatives or options at the moment of a counter attack. Creative attacking players are also unable to exploit their skills and create scoring opportunities since the space to do so is limited.
Against an Irish squad who lacks in attacking prowess, the worst that can happen is you have an underwhelming and woeful performance, which is what happened to England. But against a top tier national team with legitimate attacking threats, this can mean being pinned deep in your own side of the field and an inability to maintain possession.
In Hodgson, you have a manger who is very rigid and set in his ways about formation and tactics. Although it has served him well in his long career with different teams, its current application to the England national team is counterproductive. While playing such a traditional formation makes it easy for the manager to employ, it fails to give his team the best chance at success.
England is no longer a national team that lacks players who are skilled with the ball, and the starting eleven are a testament to that fact. So long as Roy Hodgson fails to recognize this and sticks with his old ways, England will continue to look lackluster and at the World Cup, fail to live up to expectations, and be a mediocre national team at best.