England’s disciplined new style is the right way for them to play during Euro 2012, according to former goalkeeper David James.
Speaking exclusively to Goal.com, the one-time Liverpool player said he expects most European Championship games to be closely fought and that Roy Hodgson’s strategy can therefore pay dividends if England make it through to the latter stages in Poland and Ukraine.
“I think every game will be tight in this tournament. Bar the fact there have been more goals than I anticipated, only the Russia and Croatia games have had a two-goal or more deficit,” James said.
“So that’s two games out of 12. So it’s still tight, and the 1-0 model definitely works.
“In the France game at 1-1, there was an opportunity to lose shape and confidence, but the second half was as good as the first.”
The 41-year-old was hugely encouraged by England’s performance against France on Monday despite France full-back Patrice Evra raising questions regarding Hodgson’s team’s defensive attitude.
“I thought it was good against France, considering the manager was in charge of only his third game,” James said.
“Patrice Evra’s comments on it being like Chelsea were a bit harsh, I thought. France were the better side, and it would have been foolish to expect England to defend any differently, to the point where they didn’t have 10 men behind the ball.
“I thought it was quite disciplined, the way they had two banks of four, and when one dropped out someone else dropped back in, rather than getting every man behind the ball, a la Chelsea if you like.
“But we took a chance, with a great header from Joleon Lescott and I suppose it was unfortunate the equaliser came so quickly. But it was encouraging and I look forward to the Sweden game now.”
Having struggled to defend set-pieces when the teams last met in a finals tournament at the 2006 World Cup, England are now expected to make the most of the Swedes’ own shortcomings on high balls and James agreed that dead balls were likely to play a prominent part in Hodgson’s game plan.
“It’s the kiss of death, isn’t it? They concede from set pieces against Ukraine and we scored from one,” he said.
“Roy Hodgson’s model suggests that he works thoroughly on areas which he has control over, and free kicks is definitely one of them. It looks from the sidelines as though it is very different to the (Fabio) Capello days.
“It would be nice to have experienced it of course and then I could make an honest judgement, but it looks well drilled, well organised and I just hope we’re going into the Sweden game knowing where the flaws in Sweden’s game are, and utilising that.”
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