England manager Roy Hodgson was delighted with his side’s 2-0 win over Switzerland in the opening Euro 2016 qualifier.
This was England’s first defeat on the Swiss since the Euro 2012 qualifier four years ago. New Arsenal recruit Danny Welbeck scored two second-half goals to give the Three Lions a much needed convincing win.
Hodgson’s decision to play the diamond formation in midfield and put Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling at its tip expectedly worked off. The 19 year old was outstanding once again and Hodgson was left impressed by the work of the entire team.
“These are our talented players and this is the way forward,” Hodgson said.
“We’ve got to back them. I’m pleased we adopted a bold approach, even if we asked a lot of these players. But if it’s going to work in the future, and this group of players is to become any good, we’ve got to do it with them from the start.
“We had to go from the start as we mean to continue and not just mix and match teams to get certain results on certain occasions. We stick with them and this start will now help us. We had the unfortunate time in Brazil which was a kick in the teeth. Now we can pick our teeth up, put them back in and go again.
“The players took enormous responsibility. We’ve been pushing that for a while now: about ownership and them making certain it’s not just about listening and following instructions but actually understanding them, believing in themselves and knowing they can do it. We did that from the first minute tonight.
“This was always going to be a difficult game because Switzerland don’t lose at home. The last time was when England beat them. But we had a game plan and it worked. We missed some chances early on but, once Danny eventually scored, it was going to open up on the counterattack. We can do that with the youth and energy of the team and that showed to good effect.”
Hodgson hailed Welbeck, who scored his first international goal(s) in over a year and also offered praise to Raheem Sterling, who has been looking like quite the star off late.
“I do think there’s more to come from him,” said the manager. “Raheem was even more dominant and even more of a thorn in the side [of Switzerland] tonight than he had been against a defensive side like Norway the other night. The same applies to Jack Wilshere at the base of midfield.
“We thought about playing the diamond at the start of last week but decided against Norway to start in another way. The performance in that match, especially in the latter part when Raheem moved into the middle and Danny [Welbeck] went up front alongside Daniel Sturridge, had been pleasing. We thought this could be a good system for our players.
“The six lads I have in front of the back four have tremendous potential: youth, energy, talent. They can play in different positions, wide and central. And there was reward for Danny Welbeck, too.
“I speak to him often and I’ve asked him what he considers to be his best position and he has said centre-forward, but he understands fully that position hasn’t been available to him in the past in an England shirt. Others have got in the team before him, so he’s understood the need to do the job elsewhere.
“But he’s never complained, he’s always said he’d play where I wanted him to play and I was pleased for him here. Both he and Wayne Rooney did a spectacular job with the way they won the ball so far up the field.”
Fabian Delph made his first start for England and took some time to settle into the team as he started the game with some wild fouls which could have seen him being sent off very early.
“You can take away players’ qualities by speaking to them too much,” Hodgson said. “If you emphasis discipline and to be careful in tackles, you can take away elements of their game. We lacked that urgency at the World Cup at times, putting people under pressure and making life difficult for opponents, and I was pleased with the way we approached the game and put pressure on the Swiss here.
“We have to continue working on that, not least with Fabian. This is one cap. I want him to have lots of caps and games for Aston Villa before France in 2016 comes around.
“I want him to be a much more competent player then than he is now, to be even better in two years’ time. But this was pleasing. We approached the game well and got our reward.”