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England Reaction: Hodgson must keep Brazil guessing

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It was the same old story for England at Wembley as Roy Hodgson's Lions neither roared nor purred against the Irish...

"For instance, Theo Walcott has not operated as an out-and-out right winger for Arsenal all season yet he started in that position, while his club mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - an infrequent starter for the Gunners - was relied upon again from the start."


Rather than opting for a modern 4-3-3 formation against Ireland (as advised by this humble columnist), Roy Hodgson opted to stick to his guns and the flack has followed since the 1-1 draw at Wembley.

One of those giving it both barrels is BBC football pundit Gary Lineker, who labelled England's tactics 'a step back into the dark ages'.

Lineker, a bona fide member of the twitterati, went on to use the social media site to exclaim: "Don't like England playing this system. So easy to play against. Predictable and dated."

So, does the former England striker who racked up 48 goals from just 80 caps have a point, or was Roy right to go with two up front given the options available to him?

The degree to which Lineker is right is contestable, but the evidence of a largely sluggish England performance, sadly lacking in invention, does place weight behind his remonstrations at England's rigid tactics. 

You only have to look at the Champions League final to get an accurate litmus test on how the best teams play these days, with both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund effectively operating the 4-3-3, retreating to a theoretical 4-5-1 when defending.

Given Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool all plump for this arrangement as a preference it does make Hodgson's decision more baffling.

For instance, Theo Walcott has not operated as an out-and-out right winger for Arsenal all season yet he started in that position, while his club mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - an infrequent starter for the Gunners - was relied upon again from the start.

Playing Walcott and Daniel Sturridge in those prong positions in a 4-3-3 would have been a far more natural fit.

In fairness to the 'Ox' he was one of England's most lively performers, though his final decision-making and shooting is still a work in progress.

Still, there were positives. Frank Lampard continued to show why Chelsea were insane to consider letting him leave, while Leighton Baines' probing cameo did much to suggest he's a ready-made replacement for centurion Ashley Cole.

Aside from Glen Johnson's strange decision not to step up with the rest of the defence, which gifted Shane Long Ireland's goal, the defence never looked troubled either.

However, if England are to beat Brazil for a second time this spring - with their chances currently rated at [5.7] - Hodgson must surely be more inventive with his tactics.

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