The Three Lions beat 10-man Portugal 1-0 at Wembley on Thursday, but manager Roy Hodgson has still come in for much criticism.
It would be further frustrating on the manager since England’s won all their last three games. Pundits have questioned how Hodgson employs Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy.
“We played with split strikers,” said Hodgson. “If you play with them both through the middle with Rooney central as well you can’t defend the wide areas. There were some moments where you might be right and Kane and Vardy were a little too wide but their job is to split and come together at the right times. If you play with a man in behind them, you have to make sure he has space in which to run.”
Then Hodgson went on to hail what he believes is a good result, as opposed to the tactics and style of play.
“I’m not prepared to accept that we didn’t play well. Portugal are ranked higher than us in the Fifa rankings, so there is no reason to be dissatisfied. We looked good, we had composure throughout the game and it would have been better to play against 11. I’m very pleased with three wins, we never looked like conceding a goal. I’m not prepared to add my voice to the debate [on the strikers]. We need all of our players playing well, and I’m not prepared to stand here and criticise some players. If I start being dissatisfied with three wins against Australia, Turkey and Portugal I’m going to be a hard coach to satisfy.”
Manchester United defender Chris Smalling scored the winning goal, and his teammate Wayne Rooney wasn’t as overjoyed about the performance.
“We were the better team but we need to play better, we know that,” he said. “But it’s a good sign that we didn’t play well and won the game. The manager is working on the three up front. There are 23 men in the squad, it’s about all of us. We are ready. We haven’t been at our best but we have won the three games.”