Roy Hodgson remains defiant as Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer pan formation and tactics
Roy Hodgson said he was “not prepared to accept” that England did not play well despite fierce criticism from pundits and former players after the lacklustre 1-0 friendly victory over Portugal.
Former England captains Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer were among those voicing their concern at England’s uninspired performance during the final warm-up match before they depart for Euro 2016.
“If you’re going to play Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy then at least play them as centre-forwards and not wingers. Or what’s the point?” Shearer tweeted as England’s formation was called into question.
Lineker added: “Also in this system width should be provided by full-backs, not the two strikers. Keep them together.”
Lineker also criticised Hodgson using Kane to take corners and free-kicks and there was a withering put-down of midfielder James Milner who was among several players to disappoint on a night that left more questions than answers over England and the way they should play.
“The answer always seems to be James Milner. Still trying to work out the question,” Lineker tweeted. The former striker’s social media postings have irritated Hodgson in the past – after a pre-World Cup friendly against the Republic of Ireland he described the manager’s tactics as “a step back to the dark ages”.
The specific criticisms were not put to Hodgson this time but his annoyance at the line of critical questioning after the match was evident. “I’m not prepared to accept that we didn’t play well,” Hodgson said defiantly following the win against fellow Euro 2016 qualifiers who were reduced to 10-men after Bruno Alves’s first-half dismissal.
“We looked good, we had composure throughout the game and it would have been better to play against 11. I’m very pleased with three wins [in the warm-up matches]… I’m not prepared to add my voice to the debate.
“We need all of our players playing well. In every game some people have a really good night, I’m not prepared to stand here and criticise some players. If I start being dissatisfied with three wins against Australia, Turkey and Portugal I’m going to be a hard coach to satisfy.” Hodgson tinkered with his formation against Portugal as Wayne Rooney was pushed forward in what was meant to be a midfield diamond but appeared, at times, to be a 4-3-3.
“It’s good we haven’t sailed through the matches,” Hodgson argued. “Each has posed us some problems and shown us some areas we’d still like to improve upon and work upon. In the two-and-a-half weeks together it’s been a very intensive time, and the players have been excellent in the way they’ve buckled down, working hard to improve the shape of our team, movement in attack and shape in defence.
“I’m happy we’re on the right track in that respect. We’ll go to France reasonably confident we can keep this going but also knowing we’re not the finished articles.” However Rooney was harsher in his assessment and conceded that England had to perform far better in the finals. “We won the game but it was always difficult,” the captain said. “They went to 10 men and that can happen in football. We were the better team. We need to play better, we know that. But it’s a good sign that we didn’t play well and won the game.
“The manager is working on the three up front [Rooney, Vardy and Kane]. There are 23 men in the squad, it’s about all of us. We are ready. We haven’t been at our best but we have won the three games.”