Houllier: Playing with a target man is part of England’s culture

The Frenchman believes it's in the Three Lions DNA to play with a tall centre-forward and believes the tactic can be successful
Former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier believes it is part of England’s culture to play with a target man up front following Andy Carroll’s selection in their 3-2 win over Sweden.

Carroll opened the scoring in the match with his striker partner Danny Welbeck grabbing the winner and Houllier thinks their style of play differs greatly from their Group D opponents France.

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"It is in their DNA and culture," Houllier told France Football.

"When they have a big tall guy, they put him up front. In France, when we have this kind of player, we put him in central defence.

"Besides, there is a tradition of long and direct play in England. A tradition of fighting and physical challenge, but also a tradition of 4-4-2.

"The idea is to associate two different registers: a big guy who can offer deepness and also play with his back towards the goal and be able to keep the ball, not to mention deviating the ball with his head to his team-mates and play the second balls.

"Then a smaller guy, more mobile, more dribbling, often more of a hunter of goals who asks more for the ball at his feet. That is what Hodgson did against Sweden with Carroll and Welbeck. That is also what I did in Liverpool for a long time with [Emile] Heskey and [Michael] Owen."

The 64-year-old also believes the tactic could prove successful, adding: "When there is no space in the ground and you don’t have any solution, this could be interesting to play in the air.

"Sometimes, there is simply no other way. It a simple approach to the game yet efficient if you have the players to do it.

"But do not forget that some players in this position really have skills, like [Peter] Crouch. These attackers are not only here to make an impact, or as a foothold."