England’s performance against France illustrated a lot of key points that need to be addressed the most important of which is what kind of a team are we? This is impacted by a lot of things, but it starts with how we are playing and how valuable they are to England’s success. At the moment our back four looks pretty strong while defending, getting forward is a different issue. With Glenn Johnson coming it to take over from Wes Brown late in the France game he won the right to another shot at taking the right back position at which we are very week. When fit Micah Richards has also proven he is tough to contend with and is a threat going forward. With a fit Terry alongside the best centre back England has had in a while, Ferdinand, we have a pretty effective central pairing. Ashley Cole is our only real option at left back, and although his game against France wasn’t too flattering we know he can perform at that position. Our midfield is a whole different monster. We have players like Gerrard, Lampard, Jenas, Barry, and Hargraves fighting for the spots in the middle. While out wide Joe Cole, Beckham, Bentley, Downing and Ashley Young are all serious contenders. Upfront Rooney is the obvious number one choice but with his tendencies he is more suited for a supporting striker role. To choose the proper formation for the squad we should start at the top with Rooney. He is a player who is best when he has someone to play off of. We’ve tried him behind Micheal Owen, Crouch, and other sub-par strikers. England is very thin with regards to up front. We have a few players who could however start to fit in Walcott, and Agbonlahor, but at the moment these players are not quite at the right level to start. So we are left with Rooney alone up front, which leaves us with two real options a 4-5-1/ 4-1-4-1 hybrid or a 4-2-3-1. The 4-2-3-1 seems to be the formation taking over the world these days, but I have always apposed to using it with England because of the ineptitude up of Rooney by himself. Rooney really does need to be playing though so he is the obvious player up front. The next three gives us a few problems. Joe Cole’s performance against Switzerland was very good, and his tendancy to stray into the middle while playing on the wing and his inability to cross make the “front three” the perfect spot for him. Gerrard seems to be the best option to play directly behind Rooney in a supporting role, however with some of his recent patchy performances for England we need a bit of cover there, but for now Gerrard will have to work. The right side is the biggest problem for us. Considering Beckham’s performances for England recently and through out his 100 caps I believe he deserves a spot on our team, but if we play him alongside Gerrard and Cole we will be missing an attacking flair which was evident against France. That is why I would demote him to the bench and look at a few younger players for the role. I believe that Ashley Young, Theo Walcott and Aaron Lennon all are good fits for that final position. I think there is very little separating the three skill wise and they should all be given a shot in upcoming friendlies. The two defensive midfielders need to be good passers of the ball as well as strong tackles, Barry has shown he is not the right man for this role, but I think Hargraves is made for this position. He should be accompanied by fellow Man United player Carrick. Carrick has shown in recent weeks that he has one of the best passing ranges in the world and he knows Rooney well which will help since he is playing up front. I already mentioned the back four, and the keeper seems to just be whoever is playing the best at the moment. So overall the 4-2-3-1 is what fits our players. We still haven’t addressed the style of play we will use. I believe a quick passing game is what we need. Fast one touch passing really helped create some very nice build-up plays against France and that is something we need to do more of. We have midfielders than are used to playing at the high tempo of the Premier League and they should be able to bring that tempo into the international game. It also means less individual player match-ups where we know we aren’t nearly as good as opposing nations. The one thing about this strategy is that it will take patience from the fans and players to adapt to this style. We are going to need a few more France-esque games where we aren’t going to win. Capello will need to tinker with the squad to find the perfect combination of players. The one problem with playing a quick tempo passing game with the 4-2-3-1 formation is that the striker is always going to need someone else to play off of. This player is usually going to be the opposite winger from where the ball is. For example if the ball is on the right Joe Cole is going to need to be supporting Rooney and in turn the fullback’s need to make more advancing runs than usual to cover. However the two defensive midfielders give them the license to get forward more freely with worrying about being caught on the counter attack. Other than that the basic 4-2-3-1 will work well with a quick tempo passing game. Many successful English teams have trouble in Europe, because they don’t have an “identity”, England suffers from this even more so, but if Capello can give England an identity whether the one mentioned above or another results will improve.