During the build-up to this summer’s World Cup, England losses are inevitable. But that should not dishearten spectators if Hodgson continues with this positive approach, even it if has come a little later than it might’ve.
Many within the media will predictably slam all failure by England to secure victories, especially against less prestigious opponents.
This will in turn fire up a legion of forum attendees to demand change throughout England’s ranks as they perceive that our summer voyage to the far shores of Brazil will be anything but a fiesta. Though, as Hodgson himself decreed post-game, people should hold some perspective.
For what these frustrated supporters appear to forget is the very point of these preliminary matches. They are warm-up games aiming to provide two things simultaneously: tasters from a buffet of unfamiliar world cuisine and star auditions for the biggest show on the strip. They are not a final spectacular showpiece, but instead the rehearsal to ensure the showpiece is as spectacular as can be.
Within these games the results are not as important as usual. Yes, a win can boost morale, but, during a warm-up, results must take somewhat of a backseat to a number of other finer outcomes.
Hodgson is in the process of trying out unproven talents, examining untried systems and testing the resilience of the older professionals. He must also attempt to measure the chemistry of bright talents and established stars while analysing how the whole mix stands up to exotic brands of football. It is a technically complicated experiment – an experiment displaying a positive beginning.
The Chile game displayed a host of emerging talents selected for audition – some of whom will not have even contested a European matchup, let alone an International game. It gave us all a glimpse of their capabilities at the highest level.
It also displayed a few old boys and whether or not they continue to bring enough to the table to warrant selection.
Alongside these, the match also provided an opportunity for us to gauge the dexterity of this mixture of fledgling players and seasoned internationals in reality, away from our theories and Hodgson’s tactics board.
Finally, it illustrated the strength of the supposedly mediocre section of opponents England will face in Brazil.
The approach adopted by Hodgson for the upcoming friendlies is brave, positive, progressive and experimental – an approach that will only benefit England’s prospective performance this summer.
The one issue which may bring criticism is the somewhat delayed timing of the experiment. Could England not have mixed it up sooner? Perhaps - though Hodgson’s primary concern was to achieve qualification for The World Cup and obviously believed the use of experience was the surest solution to this.
As Roy successfully selected a qualifying approach we should perhaps respect his selection of preparatory approach, especially as it also appears the best approach he could adopt.
image: © Mick Baker
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