England: Jones confirms future role must be defensive

3Jun 2013

Bet365 (2)

After recording a draw in Rio, Christian Crowther assesses England's performance against World Cup favourites Brazil...

Delivering a decisive judgement on England's latest prestige friendly isn't easy, such was the disjointed nature of the Three Lions performance.

Still, a 2-2 draw at the home of the 2014 World Cup favourites - which had briefly threatened to be a famous England victory when Wayne Rooney put the visitors in front on 79 minutes - has to be received with a degree of optimism.

After the Gary Lineker-inspired media post-mortem of Hodgson's 'dark ages' tactics days earlier against Republic of Ireland, you might conclude that England were delivered from the shadows in the Maracana but the light is still some way off.

To the relief of Mr Lineker and many others, it was at least promising (at the start) to see England line up in a more fluid looking 4-3-3, with Wayne Rooney flanked by James Milner and Theo Walcott up top - leaving Frank Lampard, Phil Jones and Michael Carrick in a midfield three.

However, promise soon gave way to the usual frustration as players who thrive in rigours of the Premier League inexplicably lost the ability to pass to someone else in a red shirt.

Many, if not all, were guilty of this offence but notable repeat offenders were Theo Walcott - still an anomaly at times - and Man United's most lauded utility man Phil Jones, a fish out of water in the middle of the park it turned out.

Jones may be an athlete and a fierce competitor no doubt, but his technical limitations indicate his position has to be in the back four going forward, backed up by his improvement after slotting in at right-back for the last half an hour.

England's wastefulness inevitably invited pressure and if it wasn't for an excellent display of goalkeeping from Joe Hart, the Lions could easily have been two or three down at the break, and deservedly so.

Some of Brazil's invention going forward invited a glimpse of their potential to go far on home soil next year and Neymar in particular impressed with dazzling feet, though his end product was a little suspect.

Brazil have much to offer going forward, with the likes of Oscar, Fred and Hulk all threatening and second-half substitute Lucas Moura offering a constant menace down the right flank.

Nevertheless, the Samba Boys famed fallibility for defending, exposed by England's unlikely comeback, does call into question their justification as the 4.6 favourites for World Cup glory, especially as Spain are out at 7.2.

After the goal did finally arrive 12 minutes into the second half, it looked like England could fold. Nevertheless, Hodgson must take credit for his tactical shift and the introduction of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who popped up with a stunning equaliser.

The young Gooner's fearless performance is a real positive for England to take away, as was the fact their general play improved dramatically after going a goal down, though there were still some anxious moments.

Ultimately, this result should breed confidence ahead of the vital qualifiers, where Hodgson's troops are still the 1.65 favourites to win Group H.

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Keywords: England, Jones, Rio, Christian Crowther

Source: Bet365

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