2017 is a big year for the England Women’s team as they are now one of the favourites to win the upcoming Euros in the Netherlands.
But do they have enough to win it ?
England are currently in fifth position in the FIFA rankings, one point behind fourth-placed Canada and eleven points behind third placed France. They are very close to reaching the podium although Sunday’s friendly defeat to Norway means some lost points over the two other teams.
It seems that Mark Sampson has settled into a 3-5-2 system with a back three of Bronze, Houghton and Potter. Bardsley is the first choice in goal despite making consistent errors either handling high balls or with her kicking.
Williams and Nobbs seem to be guaranteed a start in midfield as well and then for the remaining five positions, Mark Sampson seems to like rotating the players. Carney has been chose in the number 10 role but others could also claim it.
When we look back at the previous tournament history under Mark Sampson i.e. the 2015 FIFA WWC, England were mainly a mix of two animals. A hedgehog, because of the defensively minded set-up and a chameleon because of their ability to change systems to counter the oppositions’ strength and use their weaknesses.
Since the World Cup, England have evolved into a more stable 4-4-1-1 for a season. It kept the defensive stability intact, but did not give a lot of attacking results. That’s why England have evolved again moving to a back three and a 3-5-2 base system.
Unfortunately, creativity seems to be the main problem.
Transiting from a defensive mindset to a more attacking one, regardless of the system employed, seems quite complex. There is no doubt that the England team is difficult to beat, it is the team’s DNA as engineered by Hope Powell and through all the age groups from the seniors to the u15.
The saddest thing is there are many creative, attacking players available but the line-up tends to change a lot for those type of players from game-to-game and therefore they cannot create any kind of partnership or understanding.
You get the feeling that the manager has not settled his favourite attacking line-up unlike his defensive one.
There are still six months and five or six friendlies to be played to find the right balance as it will be a tough tournament and England will need to hit the ground running to avoid the same problems that happened in 2013.