Sport : Football

Hodgson plans change in style

25th September 2012, 09:40pm

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Roy Hodgson: Focused on improving England's play

Roy Hodgson: Focused on improving England's play

Roy Hodgson has vowed to lead a culture change as he admitted his England team cannot afford to "ignore the trends" in international football.

Manager Hodgson wants England to develop a possession-based game, the brand of football which has allowed the likes of Spain, Italy and Germany to be forces at tournament level in recent years.

England reached the quarter-finals at Euro 2012 where they lost to Italy in a penalty shoot-out, and have not gone any further at a European Championship or World Cup since getting to the semi-finals as hosts of Euro 96.

They had been outplayed for long stretches of the Italy match by Cesare Prandelli's side, and their conquerors went on to reach the final before being beaten by Spain.

England repeatedly hoisted high balls to substitute Andy Carroll late in the quarter-final, and had just 36 per cent of possession.

The team's struggle to consistently keep possession of the ball has been a pressing concern, and manager Hodgson claims it is imperative they learn that skill.

Speaking at the UEFA conference for European national team coaches in Poland, Hodgson said: "We can't ignore the trends and it was very interesting to hear what [Euro 2012] semi-final coaches had to say about possession.

"England must maintain possession of the ball better and we have to work hard at international and club level. We know this.

"England must also show that we are capable of seizing the initiative and dominating games in tournaments rather than holding out against opponents and hitting on the counter-attack.

"In the quarter-final against Italy it was never our intention to sit back but perhaps fatigue set in.

"Don't forget we went into the tournament without several key midfielders due to injuries and therefore had a lack of experienced international players on the bench in that match."

Hodgson told www.thefa.com: "In the matches since the Euros, particularly against Italy and Moldova, I think we have already demonstrated how we would like our national team football philosophy to be.

"The coaching staff and I are fully focused on how we intend to go forward and improve our play."

Before being named England boss, Hodgson had already guided Finland and Switzerland at international level and he has an appreciation of what is required if the national team are to challenge in the latter stages of competitions.

For the 65-year-old, the elite player performance plan - a youth development scheme implemented by the Premier League - and the National Football Centre at St George's Park, are both integral to progress.

Hodgson said: "My years of experience have taught me to be slightly wary of stats and certainly wary of basing my judgement on a team's ability to play in purely statistical terms.

"However, there is no doubt that a key to being a successful team lies in your ability to pass the ball and support each other.

"Passing and support for me have always been a key element to a winning team and this is an area of play that I'd like to think during my time as England manager we will improve.

"The opening of St George's Park and implementation of the elite player performance plan will help us longer-term to develop players who can show the passing qualities needed at top international level."


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