The England national football team manager, Roy Hodgson, has finalised his 23-man squad for the UEFA Euro 2016 and it has brought about much controversy among the English supporters. The selection has seen Andros Townsend, injured Fabian Delph, and Danny Drinkwater dropped from the provisional 26-man squad. It is with Leicester City man Danny Drinkwater where the controversy lies. The 2015/16 English Premier League medal winner was expected to be ahead of Jack Wilshere and Marcus Rashford for a spot in the final squad. That is considering the difference in playing time accumulated this season between Drinkwater and Wilshere, and the inexperience of the eighteen (18) year old striker. Despite this, Hodgson has fulfilled the expectations of those who suggested that he will be utilising the players that have proven themselves under his reign as England manager and it seems Rashford has also convinced Hodgson more of his place in the final squad than Drinkwater.
The final squad features a team of all English Premier League based players concentrated mainly between two clubs. Liverpool F.C. and Tottenham Hotspur F.C. are the two clubs responsible for the highest amount of players involved in the England squad at five (5) each. Roy Hodgson has also showed that he holds each of these players in even higher regard by including them in his squads in the Euro 2016 qualification rounds and his selections for friendlies leading up to the Euro 2016 finals. At a total of ten players from both clubs out of the final 23-man squad, it is expected that the players utilised during the Euro 2016 finals by England should heavily feature Liverpool and Spurs players.
A starting eleven (11) mainly featuring Liverpool and Spurs players would be something worthy of note, but it is even more so when the topic of the system that can or will be employed is brought forward. Both clubs share a lot of similarities and this is where, especially the current ones, our focus will lie. Both clubs have the ambition to become regular UEFA Champions League integrants, which instils a certain hunger within the players, and both have young managers with similar philosophies who require their teams to play intensive, pressing, and attacking football.
England’s best bet for success at Euro 2016 could lie in the mash-up of Jurgen Klopp’s and Mauricio Pochettino’s systems which would be comprised of at least seven (7) or more players from both clubs.
A similar team selection to the illustration above was used in the most recent ‘friendly’ against the World Champions, Germany, and it displayed much potential. Yes, England won the tie but more importantly was how England did it. Four (4) Spurs players and three (3) Liverpool players started that match and in it they executed the pressing game that has been ingrained into them by their respective managers. The German opposition enjoyed the better start of the match and were up by two (2) goals to nil (0) at half time. However, it was the ‘always’ running, pressing, and probing English who had the last laugh with a stunning comeback in the second half. The match concluded in England’s favour at three (3) goals to two (2). It is important to note that the English players improved as the match progressed and not for once did it seem as if they were losing confidence. This tenacity is likely the result of the high intensity and focused system being second nature to the team’s composition.
After the match, comments suggesting that the tie was just a friendly and that it should not be taken as any indication of what would occur during a competitive game surfaced from many onlookers. Before the match, however, a stalwart of the opposition who took part in the historical rivalry, Thomas Muller, contradicted the claims.
‘We want to give the world something to write home about,’ Muller said.
‘They’re [England] a really good opponent and that’s exactly the way we want it to be.’ ‘Win or lose, it doesn’t have anything to do with Euro 2016 at the end of the day, but it’s important to look good against opposition like this. We have quite a big squad here so everybody will be fighting for places.’
Hodgson won’t be able to fully equip his team with a full array of pressers from both clubs but the other players within the England team showed an affinity to the style when it was engaged against Germany. The system also needs games to work the kinks out. Despite such, Hodgson didn’t make the decision on doing so with the two (2) friendlies against Turkey and Australia. The actual direction that Hodgson will take for the Euros is unclear to the public. Yet, if he encounters hardship early on in the competition, he may feel the need to resort to the hybrid pressing machine that had beaten the World Champions in a ‘friendly’ encounter.