ROY Hodgson is giving his England players â€œhomeworkâ€ to undertake between get-togethers as he tries to speed up his young sideâ€™s development in time to make an impression at the 2016 European Championship finals.
The Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere revealed he and his team-mates will be provided with footage and analysis of their own performances, and clips of established players they might hope to emulate, to be studied before the fixtures against San Marino and Estonia next month. The Football Associationâ€™s senior menâ€™s team performance analysis manager, Andy Scoulding, will collate the data, tailoring clips for individual players and distributing them to each member of the squad.
That process began before Mondayâ€™s 2-0 victory over Switzerland. Wilshere had scrutinised footage of Javier Mascherano and Andrea Pirlo before taking up a relatively new role at the base of a midfield diamond in Basel. It places the onus increasingly on the players to reflect on their roles in the England set-up and seek to progress between international windows.
â€œBetween meet-ups weâ€™ve got to do a little bit more work,â€ said Wilshere. â€œWeâ€™ve got to do our homework, to go through videos and analyse the games, because we donâ€™t get long together. Iâ€™ll speak with Gary Neville. Weâ€™re in contact. That [diamond] formation is going to be the way forward and weâ€™ll only get better at it.â€
The England squad will be expected to take time assessing their own displays and how they might improve, before reconvening for the qualifiers at Wembley and in Tallinn next month. The England manager, who has appointed Chelseaâ€™s Gary Cahill as Wayne Rooneyâ€™s vice-captain, had spoken of thrusting more responsibility on to his young side after their win at St Jakob Park and the squad have shown themselves eager to accept.
â€œWe are not being told to do it but there is a desire to put the onus on ourselves and leave no stone unturned,â€ said Leighton Baines, the Everton left-back. â€œWe are all keen to get back to where we want to be. Weâ€™ve done that in the last week. Weâ€™re all hurting from the summer and we donâ€™t want that situation again so weâ€™ll work as hard as we can to make sure weâ€™re the best we can be.â€
The tone was set in this monthâ€™s get-together. Players took the initiative to hold small meetings among themselves before the whole squad convened as they accepted that every effort must be made to improve after the summerâ€™s disappointment at the World Cup. â€œThe players have taken a lot of responsibility,â€ said Rooney. â€œWe have had meetings among ourselves, just groups of players in the rooms, watching videos and discussing how we can do better as a team. In those meetings players speak up who wouldnâ€™t normally speak up when coaches are there.â€
â€œItâ€™s not easy for the manager and his staff to implement the ideas in such a short period of time,â€ added Baines. â€œYou can do a certain amount of work on the pitch but youâ€™re never too far away from a game so you have to be careful. The meetings are important, the videos and, in this last trip, the staff really put a lot more emphasis on us to speak up and give our own opinions. The managerâ€™s really open to listening to what the players have to say and taking that into consideration. Weâ€™re encouraged to answer questions on what could help, where we might be vulnerable. We are all being asked for our input in our individual meetings and then, collectively, when we come together.â€
While that same open approach will be adopted around the San Marino and Estonia fixtures, the need for individuals to work on personal aspects of their game in the interim has also been embraced. Wilshere, once compared favourably by Fabio Capello to Claude MakÃ©lÃ©lÃ©, is unlikely to feature at the base of a diamond for Arsenal over the next few weeks but will continue to examine the approach of modern-day defensive midfielders such as Mascherano and Pirlo in an attempt to bring aspects of their game into his own.
His is now a learning process. â€œItâ€™s a new role and the first time Iâ€™ve ever played back there on my own,â€ said the midfielder. â€œSometimes I just want to get forward and you have to be disciplined. Iâ€™ll get better at it. When the manager told me I was going to play there, I watched videos of Pirlo and Mascherano, the best players who play there.
â€œIt was Pirloâ€™s use of the ball they wanted me to look at and the way Mascherano breaks up play and gets around. I watched Argentinaâ€™s game against Germany in the World Cup final and he was fantastic. He didnâ€™t do much but he was fantastic. And weâ€™ve seen what Pirlo can do because heâ€™s done it to us a few times. Theyâ€™re the best players in the role and I can only learn from them.â€ – The Guardian