Reid on England
Sky Sports caught up with former England midfielder Peter Reid to discuss the Three Lions' progress under Roy Hodgson.
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 14/09/12 10:08am
England's 1-1 draw with Ukraine on Tuesday evening was a wake-up call for a side buoyed by a five-goal thrashing of Moldova on Friday. But it could have been worse. Yevhen Konoplyanka's stunning first-half strike left Roy Hodgson's side facing a first home defeat in World Cup qualifying since losing to Germany under Kevin Keegan in October 2000. Fortunately, Frank Lampard fired home a penalty with just minutes remaining to salvage a point and England were pushing for a winner when Steven Gerrard was sent off in the dying moments.
Hodgson has continued with the Lampard-Gerrard partnership in the centre of the pitch - and earned some criticism for doing so. But one former England midfielder still believes the duo have shown enough to encourage him that they can be a success together. Peter Reid reached a World Cup quarter-final with England in 1986 and he feels the pressure on the pair has not helped a partnership that can easily work.
"I just think there's been a lot of pressure on them saying they can't play together but I think good players can," said Reid. "People go on about formations and this and that but I was told at school that if someone makes a run forward you drop in and cover them. And that's what international football basically is even now. You watch the best team in the world, and that's Spain, and all that is rotation. So Gerrard and Lampard can do that."
The pair have often been used in a 4-4-2 in the past but there is a little more flexibility about their relationship with Hodgson having switched to a 4-5-1 system after Euro 2012. Tom Cleverley has played in the advanced role of a three-man midfield and much has been made of the change in approach but Reid believes the importance of formations can be overstated.
He added: "People make me laugh about this 4-5-1 because when I played with (Gary) Lineker up front, (Peter) Beardsley played off him so you could call that a 4-5-1. With Rushy (Ian Rush) at Liverpool, (Kenny) Dalglish played off him. It's about players reading the game. Cleverley gets in the hole and I'm sure if Wayne Rooney gets fit he can play in that hole around Jermain Defoe.
"People have a go at Defoe but I tell you what he does - he always gets shots on target. He takes them early and sometimes a keeper hasn't got chance to get set. Obviously if Andy Carroll gets fit he'll be coming into the picture, and obviously Danny Welbeck. I just think we might be a little short in that striker department. But if you can get Rooney linking up the play, Cleverley linking up the play and Jack Wilshere when he's fit, it all bodes well for England."
It is that inclusion of young players - and the improved attitude around the team - that gives the former England Under-21 boss cause for optimism regardless of results in the short-term. "I like the idea of integrating some of the young players," explains Reid. "Cleverley got a game in the middle of the park with Lampard and Gerrard - it seems to rotate really well. With the injuries, you're bringing in some of the young lads - Adam Lallana and the lad from Liverpool, Raheem Sterling. That's a decent idea, giving them experience of training in squads.
"I think it's going the right way. I still think there's a long way to go but the key thing from my point of view is that the players look happy. You know when you see them on TV and in training sessions, they look as though there's a spirit about them. I didn't see that under Fabio Capello, I have to say that, especially in South Africa. I thought it looked a struggle for the lads and that's the biggest thing - there looks as though there's a spirit among the players. And when you've got that I'm sure you can only improve."
Of course, the true judge of Hodgson's performance as boss will not be in qualification but - should they get there - England's performance at the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014. Again, Reid is hopeful and believes the football team can feed off the culture of success in UK sport at the moment.
"Qualifying is difficult but tournament football is where you come up against the big boys," added Reid. "But I've got to say that over the years if you look at England's record we have been unlucky and you need a bit of luck. I mean how many penalty shootouts - is that luck if you get beaten in them or is it lack of ability to take penalties? So that's something we've got to be mentally more strong on that point. But I just think there's an optimism at the moment. Whether it's the Olympics, Chelsea, Andy Murray, Rory McIlroy - there's an optimism out there."
Peter Reid was talking at one of Carlsberg's ultimate legends experiences at the Jolly Miller pub, Liverpool. Carlsberg is Official Beer of the England football team and could be bringing future events to a pub near you. To find out more go to www.carlsberg.co.uk