Submission doesn’t normally get you far in tournaments, and for England it was always a case of when, rather than if, a top side would take advantage over their submissive style of play. Walcott was a bit-part player in the tournament despite getting them through the group stages with two pieces of brilliance and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who happened to be one of England’s best players vs France, featured sparingly for the remainder of the tournament.
In the quarter final vs Italy, Hodgson waited until the 61st minute to introduce Walcott and either his tactics, or his player’s lack of awareness meant that England did not use Walcott well enough. In fact he was mostly a bystander as Pirlo and co. dominated possession throughout the game, especially in the second half.
It was not clear what type of strategy England were trying to employ as they were clearly not trying to win the game, in fact throughout extra time England barely got out of their own box. Walcott’s introduction should have been the catalyst England needed to play counter-attacking football. Chelsea showed it was possible to win a major tournament despite having so little of the ball and with Italy throwing so many men forward one would have expected Walcott to be England’s main outlet, especially considering his pace.
Walcott had a couple of bright moments, almost finding Carroll for the winner but the reality was that every time England got the ball, they wasted it by giving it away. In fact, Walcott only touched the ball 16 times in 59 minutes of football, Christian Maggio, who came on in the 90th minute, touched the ball 40 times, proving that England did not use their wide players effectively enough, an incredible statistic.
Hodgson undoubtedly favours Milner because he adds security, he’s not unpredictable and therefore Hodgson sees him as reliable and knows that he won’t throw up any surprises. The reality is that Milner wouldn’t get into many other top nations squads due to his lack of pace and predictably on the right hand side.
If England are to be more successful in future tournaments then the likes of Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain will have to feature more extensively in the future.
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