England need to evolve their style

The Three Lions need to look no further than Liverpool and their attacking display this season for inspiration and Hodgson needs to evolve England's style similar to them.

By Shikharr Chandra

Following the 1-1 draw against Republic of Ireland last year, Roy Hodgson looked impressed with his side's performance. When asked about their style of football, Hodgson replied that the 'Three Lions' played very similar to the way Borussia Dortmund play in their 4-4-2 system.

Dortmund who were Champions League runners-up in the 2012-13 season, are one of the most exciting sides in European football at the moment, centering their play around high pressing, speed and quick counter-attacks. England on the other hand looked underwhelming to say the least. 

Former England international, Gary Lineker tweeted that England's 4-4-2 was so predictable, dated and easy to play against and was a step back to the dark ages of two lines of four.

Lineker pretty much summed up England in those few lines. Going into every major tournament with huge expectations and hype, they have been disappointing and much of that has been down to their inability to get the best out of the side.

Former manager Sven Goran Eriksson who inherited an England squad full of well established stars, couldn't play to their strengths. His 4-4-2 formation saw him use Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the center with Paul Scholes out on the left. As if deploying Gerrard and Lampard in the center wasn't bad enough, putting Scholes outwide just for the sake of including him was baffling.

When Fabio Capello took over, expectations were high for the former Real Madrid manager. Known for his tactics and astute management skills, Capello used various formations during his time, mainly 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 although he usually opted for the former as England manager.

What was interesting about Capello's stint was how well he was working on in changing the England setup. Old stalwarts like Lampard and Rio Ferdinand found chances hard to come by as Jack Wilshere and Gary Cahill emerged.

However, Capello's England were not pleasing to watch. Peter Crouch led the line with Wayne Rooney as the supporting striker and the tactics were more or less simple - hoof the ball towards the tallest man on the field and allow others to get involved in the attack. The side made quick starts in the first half but had difficulties maintaining efficiency as the game progressed.

The major problem with England over the years has been their predictability. Getting rid of that along with adding more quickness and sharpness to their gameplay is perhaps the biggest test for Hodgson and co.

While the England boss played a 4-2-3-1 formation against Peru, they lacked pace in attack and urgency in their build-up play.

Paul Scholes in his blog mentioned that England need to emulate the way Liverpool played this season. The Reds scored more than 100 goals in all competitions and Brendan Rodgers's tactics of high pressing from midfield and quick movement was pleasing to watch.

While England go into the competition with four Liverpool players expected to be in the starting line-up, there were few signs of the "Liverpool way" against Peru on Friday night. Hodgson is a pragmatic manager, someone who is opposite to the likes of Rodgers, but if England are to stand any chance this summer they need to take the game to their opponents rather than wait for the right opportunity to arrive.

Dietmar Hamann before the game tweeted that "Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley would go straight into Germany's team right now and must have half a chance getting into England's because they are special". By the looks of it, the former Liverpool star wasn't wrong.

England looked a far better attacking unit in the second half when Raheem Sterling and Wilshere came on to replace Rooney and Gerrard. They started to move the ball more quickly and England looked far more threatening than they were in the first half.

The Liverpool winger did not start the game as Danny Welbeck was preferred over him but if Hodgson needs to add more spark to the side's play, Sterling's presence from the start is a necessity. While Hodgosn's loyalty to Welbeck is understandable considering he played almost all of England's qualifiers, the Manchester United forward has had a mixed season this time around and has not been in his best form.

England's chances are bleak and their group is the toughest of the lot, but it is not impossible. If Hodgson can make his side play the right way, England might just be the dark horses of this year's World Cup.