What a difference 90 odd minutes can make to the football landscape as Roy Hodgson’s players kicked his critics into touch thanks to a 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win over Switzerland in Basel.
Following a limp showing against Norway days earlier, England turned the rising tide of negativity with a clinical counter-attacking performance against the Swiss to leave themselves as strong 1/4 favourites to top Group E.
Here are five things we learned from a refreshing England display in Switzerland:
Diamonds are forever (well for the foreseeable future anyhow)
The clamour to move Raheem Sterling inside to his most dangerous niche behind the strikers proved irresistible for Hodgson and it paid dividends.
Not only did the Liverpool forward have a hand in both goals, popping up in positions between the lines, he stayed out of the space Wayne Rooney likes to operate in which was a real issue against Norway.
Meanwhile, Fabian Delph’s energy was in tune with the industry always shown by Jordan Henderson on the right-hand side, while players left out such as James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could easily slot into the formation in future.
Danny Welbeck can play up top
If many of England’s number shone brightly, Arsenal’s new signing stole the show, when finally given licence to play through the middle. Gooners will be rubbing their hands after this display.
Roy Hodgson is an adaptable manager
4-2-3-1 clearly left England exposed at the World Cup, while Hodgson’s reversion to a 4-4-2 against Norway proved an experimental faux pas.
However, he has redeemed himself with England’s latest incarnation and it’s good to see a manager who is willing to adjust. 3-5-2 next?
John Stones is not the answer at right-back
While most England players would have scored a B grade at least on the night, England’s makeshift right-back was one of the rare underachievers, possibly earning a D for his efforts.
When employing a diamond formation it’s imperative for the full-backs to offer support going forward when the central midfielders are often tucked in, but Everton’s youngster barely crossed the halfway line and looked nervous when doing so.
England’s team ethic can be platform for success
Rooney and Welbeck were keen to point out the Three Lions’ ‘team ethic’ was the basis for their triumph during the post-match interview.
The former Manchester United teammates weren’t wrong either as to a man they pressed with such vigour the Swiss found hard it difficult to cope, while they defended from the front as well.
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