England's 2-0 defeat to Chile on Friday further dampened their already modest World Cup hopes after a somewhat uninspiring performance against the South Americans. Though Roy Hodgson fielded a fairly experimental XI, especially in the wide areas, you can't help but wonder why England seem to lack a consistent style or identity to their play, particularly compared to how Chile went about their business.
We saw Chile press high, push the full-backs way up and the central defenders split while they played it around quite dangerously at the back. They also retained the ball magnificently and used Alexis Sanchez's talents to the fullest. What this showed though, apart from a team outplaying another, is the gulf between one side knowing exactly how they want to play their style of football and another seemingly lacking tactical consistency. It goes without saying which analysis applies to which team.
When thinking of the greatest footballing sides to grace the game, whether it be a country or a club, all of them have their own personality or style. Spain and Barcelona have their tika-taka, Brazil have their flair and Germany have their solidity (though not as much in this generation). When you think of England these days, however, what would you classify as their style? Certainly, once they were known for their physical prowess and robustness, but lately, in conjunction with the direction that modern football is taking, that approach seems primitive. Recently, we've seen England try to play the ball around more patiently like their European and South American rivals, but when that doesn't work, like against Chile, there seems to be no back-up plan. England had no answer for the unique style of football that Chile brought to them.
Though it would be unfair to judge the current style of England's play based on Friday's friendly, you can certainly ask questions about Roy Hodgson's team selection, particularly concerning Jay Rodriguez's inclusion. While the Southampton forward has been impressive for the Saints this season, is it perhaps slightly ill-timed for the England boss to introduce him to the international fold?
With the World Cup just around the corner, you would think that Hodgson would concentrate on perfecting the first team and their tactics with what little time he has with the international side. While the England side has plenty of injuries at the moment to cope with, hence the slightly unfamiliar looking side, why was Andros Townsend not a starter? He is definitely a player staking a huge claim for a spot in the final World Cup squad for Brazil, so why not give him at least an hour against South American opposition rather than bringing him on as a second half substitute? Hodgson, however, said he was more focused on giving some of the other players a chance.
Said Hodgson: "I chose to have a smaller pool on Friday to keep players for Tuesday and not use them in the game. I was more anxious to use the guys who had not had the chance to show what they can do."
The amount of players that Hodgson has used in his England sides has been well documented and the number is now a staggering 53 since he took charge in May 2012. It is clear that like Moyes at United or Mourinho at Chelsea, Hodgson doesn't know what his best eleven is at the moment. Even though there have been injuries and it can be argued that the national team is in a big state of transition, that is still a lot of players in a relatively short period of time.
Of the two new Southampton inclusions, Adam Lallana has an outside chance of making it to Brazil and he is a technically impressive player, but Rodriguez was an experiment too far. While he is definitely a future prospect, chopping, changing and pushing through new internationals is not the best practice in the immediate lead-up to the World Cup.
It seems that Hodgson's experiments are hampering England's consistency and fluidity of football and while the defeat to Chile is a minor set-back, in the grand scheme of things it is very worrying that England not only had no answer to Chile's play, but that they posed no questions of their own.
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