A DIAMOND midfield system is perfect for England, and they showed it last night in what was an enormously confidence-boosting win in Switzerland.
Brendan Rodgers used it last season to accommodate both Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, and it works similarly well for Roy Hodgson, who has to play Wayne Rooney and, though injured last night, Sturridge.
It brings the best out of England’s talents, not least Raheem Sterling, who plays behind the front two and really is amazing for a 19-year-old. Sterling has great awareness, which he showed with a pinpoint pass for Danny Welbeck’s first and a clever ball into Rickie Lambert, who in turn fed Welbeck for his second.
Welbeck looked everything that I expect him to be for Arsenal this season: strong, powerful, terrific. His second finish bore all the hallmarks of the England centre-forward he wants to be.
Jordan Henderson was disciplined on the right of the diamond and Fabian Delph did well enough on his first start to get through 90 minutes.
Jack Wilshere showed encouraging glimpses of what he can do, as did Rooney. Both men started out nervously – Rooney hesitated when he should have volleyed Wilshere’s cross – but grew into the game.
Every single player had a good night, it all came together and it was a case of job well done in a difficult place to go. The Swiss were very physical in the first half but England stuck at their task.
I’m very pleased for Roy Hodgson. By his manner on the touchline you could see he was feeling every moment, but it all went to plan; you couldn’t argue with any of his selections.
It’s never been in doubt that he’s the right man to lead the team for the next two years, and now it looks like he’s found a system that players look comfortable in.
Trevor Steven is a former England international who has played at two World Cups and two European Championships. He now works as a media commentator.