|Roy Hodgson (picture from The Sun website)|
As I start typing this, we're into the 40th minute of England's football friendly with Italy. Roy Hodgson's first game as manager without any major pressure, where he can experiment and begin the process of building up to the next international competition. So far, I must say I've been very impressed. The players aren't afraid being in possession, there's a lot of movement off the ball, and some pretty nifty play at times. Adam Johnson on the right has particularly caught my eye with a couple of lovely moves, but the whole team is looking confident and ambitious.
Matches like this can be so useful for a new(ish) manager, being a great opportunity for him to take a look at fringe players and try new tactics and formations. Hodgson's taken this opportunity fully, I think; starting Cleverley, Johnson, Walker and Carrick and giving the 4-2-3-1 formation a go. Remember when Italy passed us to death in the Euros? Their star midfielder Pirlo had more passes than our entire midfield in total. Yes, I know they only won on penalties but we were so lucky to last that long, don't you think? Whereas in this game (no Pirlo, I realise!) we are competing in midfield and getting into some good positions. I'm optimistic.
My only negative is the big lad up front. Andy Carroll totally does not fit in this sort of system and I can well understand why Liverpool are trying to get rid of him, seeing as their new manager, Brendan Rogers, is also a fan of this tiki-taka quick passing stuff. On that note, I'm really excited to see how Liverpool do this season!
The second half is just about to start so let's see if England can keep up the good work. I expect there'll be a few substitutions so the rest of the game might well not be as fluent, but never mind. I've seen enough to give me hope that England could do all right under Hodgson's stewardship.