Let me start with saying that last night I witnessed one of the worst England performances for a long time. I would also like to pinpoint one player as England Major Weakness: Gareth Barry…
When Barry was first brought into the England fold he was given the small role as back-up Left Back or Left Winger. But when Hargreaves, England first choice central midfielder, was injured Barry was given the chance to partner Gerrard in the centre of the park. He played well, showed composure on the ball, and possessed the ability to pick a good pass. He also remained a key player after McClaren got replace by Capello.
This was in 2008 however; Barry has certainly worsened as a player for a few reasons, which are as followed:
1) His defensive abilities are poor. Barry rarely puts a challenge in or makes an active effort to reclaim the ball. As a result Gerrard and Rooney drop back, if Barry is to play the modern midfielder role (article to come on that) He needs to be part of a five-man midfield, and his passing has to be less direct and tidier. The kind of players who do this include: Obi Mikel, Xavi e.t.c (tidy-up role, I’ll call it)
2) Last night Gerrard played in an almost Xabi Alonso role. He picked up the ball deep in midfield, thus overshadowing Barry, and distributed the ball long. This season at Liverpool he has taken up this role perhaps because at 30 his fitness is wavering; like Scholes he is getting ready to adapt a deeper ‘playmaker’ role. Liverpool has now given Gerrard’s old role to Joe Cole.
3) In comparison to Liverpool, Barry was essentially expected to be like Lucas and at times Meireles. But Liverpool play a five-man midfield, there needs to be one or two of a tidy upper, destroyer, a runner, or a box-to-box midfielder in the midfield for this formation to work. Liverpool had Macherano,but now have Meireles playing the destroyer role, England have no-one. The same goes for Chelsea: Lampard (Gerrard), Mikel (Barry), Essien…no one, Arsenal: Nasri (Gerrard), Faberegas (Barry), and Song…no one. Spain: Xabi Alonso (Gerrard), Xavi (Barry), and Busquets…no one, and so on. Considering England was short on strikers I would have thought the five man midfield world work, most teams play it now anyway.
4) If England does decide to use two in midfield these position have to take shape differently and Barry is not good enough to play in one of these midfields. At Manchester City he usually plays with two of De Jong (Destroyer type), Yaya Toure (Box-to-box type) or Viera (Deep playmaker) Barry plays the role Gerrard played last night, and last night he was expected to be part of a two-pin system. This usually consists of a box-to-box type player and a play-maker and should only be used against at home or against weaker oppositions as it can be countered easily. Having two good feet helps as well as strength in the challenge making Barry from from the’complete’ enough midfielder to play this role. This could be done by the likes of Gerrard, Essien, Xabi Alonso or Xavi, but ironically even these players are used to three-man midfield systems at club level anyway.
A crap overview of the 4-5-1 system.
5) Barry ability as a play-maker last night was poor, but at club level he has relied on the extra man to keep things tidy in midfield. Gerrard dropped too deep to offer, a ‘breaking player’ someone like Yaya Toure, who is there to link midfield to attack. Again, England relied on lumping it forward to the wingers in order to stretch the defence. This was difficult when Motenegro had five at the back and always had midfielders tracking back to help the full-backs. A. Johnson and A. Young’s job was therefore very difficult and they were rarely given space to run into.
6) With five in midfield, England would have controlled the game. With a bit of patience the right ball would eventually have been found, instead England forced the ball forward and wide making the Montenegro player’s job easy. The five man midfield is also more flexible, on attack it can easily become a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-1-3 with the wingers acting as strikers and a midfielder joining the attack. Thus making marking difficult for the opposition.
Personally I would have played this formation.
GK: Joe Hart
RB: Glen Johnson, CB: Rio Ferdinand, CB: Gary Cahill, LB: Ashley Cole
CM (x3) (Box-to-box) Jack Whilshere, (Play-maker) Steven Gerrard, Tom Huddlestone (Tidy-up role)
RW: Adam Johnson CF: Bent( if fit) reluctantly Rooney LW: Ashley Young
So to conclude: Having a rant at Barry is perhaps unfair, Capello’s tactics were dire and they need to be changed. The five man system is tried at tested at club level and even Tottenham, who had a phobia of the formation last season, have changed to it with the addition of Van Der Vaart as an attacking midfielder. Wake up Fabio, or is the money bath you are sleeping in weighing you down?