The England crowd at Wembley went all quiet when Jordan Henderson scored, at the wrong end of the field. Slovenia had just taken the lead against England thanks to a header by the Liverpool midfielder, England were behind and had done nothing in the entire game to show that they could come back into the game.
Wayne Rooney playing his 100th game for England was a peripheral figure, then again most of the English players were. Slow, lethargic and lacking creativity, that all changed right after the goal, the kick they needed to start was provided and they won a penalty which Rooney converted. England then started to hit their stride and through sheer perseverance and some great finishing they won the game 3-1. The score line actually flattered the English since Slovenia actually were decent throughout the game and only some slick passing between Sterling and Welbeck led the latter to score his second.
The first goal from Welbeck was a scuffed shot which somehow went into the back of the net, on paper, England have done very well to win all their 4 qualifying games in their EURO 2016 group but their performances, apart from the Switzerland away win have been far from impressive.
The midfield conundrum
England started with the midfield pairing of Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson, both players haven’t had the best of seasons for their respective clubs and that was showing. England had absolutely nothing to show for in terms of creativity in the midfield, Henderson and Wilshere were more than willing to just pass the ball over to Adam Lallana or Raheem Sterling to provide the creative outlet.
The problem that England faced with two attacking midfielders earlier with Gerrard and Lampard might not be repeated but they are headed into the same route again, neither of the players are essentially holding midfielders or ones who can defend very well, Henderson loves making runs in and around the box while Wilshere is more willing to run with the ball to try and create something.
Hodgson does have a few options as well when it comes to his midfield dilemma, apart from Henderson and Wilshere, he has the options of James Milner, Ross Barkley, Fabian Delph and to an extent Adam Lallana but none of them are out and out holding midfield players. The answer would probably lie with James Milner, who does often play in the wings but is equally effective when playing in a deep midfield role.
Henderson and Wilshere could play together If one of them is not shackled down and told to defend, the pair should be allowed to play their natural games but defensive duties cannot be missed out in the modern game. The pair would need to have great communication so that one can take care when the other does go ahead and try to create an opportunity, something which did not take place during the Gerrard-Lampard midfield days.
Henderson and Wilshere should nevertheless start for England, simply because they can get better overtime, Wilshere can grow into the more holding role with time although he does not seem the most comfortable at that while Henderson should play a more running and movement based game since he has the energy and stamina to produce that. We might end up with the same problem that has plagued the English midfield for years, players having to change their playing style just to ensure they play in the England setup, while not ideal, this is the only way forward for the new look England.