England under Roy Hodgson looks to have a very clear way of playing: When out of possession, the back four stays perfectly in line, moving forward and back as though one unit. The midfield four also keep a straight line and once advancing, there are mainly 2 or 3 players going forward, while the rest form a protective line – no more than 15 meters, from the defensive line.
Playing like that is down to repetitive, sometimes boring work. Something that might be the reason Roy Hodgson did not succeed in ego-filled Liverpool and Inter (where the stars are sometimes reluctant to sacrifice their game for the collective) but did succeed in smaller teams, that with him as coach punched above their weight.
This system might also succeed in international football – if applied properly throughout the youth systems.
More about Hodgson’s 4-4-2 here: The Question: Does 4-4-2 work for England?
Anyhow, every national team must find the system that fits it and the natural advantages it has (here are the reasons: 5 steps to national team success). Spain’s national teams are playing the same system at all ages and this is also true for Germany and Denmark. But not every team is capable of playing like Spain or Germany.
Scandinavians, for instance, are not natural “tiki-taka” players, so their chosen system should be more equipped to Scandinavian traits, like pace and power. The English are also not “tiki-taka” players and that’s where the Hodgson system should step in.
I’m not saying they should learn how to pass and keep possession like the Spaniards but I am saying that there is something very English to the way Hodgson wants England to play. And the Hodgson’s 4-4-2 system seems perfectly fitted to the mostly disciplined English players, who are willing to “run through the wall for the manager” as Arsène Wenger puts it. It is a system that is based on the much admired English traits such as pace, power, discipline and determination.
Therefore, It would be interesting to see what happens if every England national team from the U15′s to U21′s play the same Hodgson 4-4-2 system. I think this will lead to an extremely cohesive national side with players that have an almost organic understanding of each other. It might not be the slickest or prettiest way to play football but it is very “English“. And eventually it will be successful.