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Hodgson hits back at England 'dark ages' remark

ESPN staff
May 31, 2013
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Roy Hodgson has defended his England team following Gary Lineker's criticism of their performance in the 1-1 draw with Ireland on Wednesday.

Former Three Lions captain Lineker said the 4-4-2 formation used by Hodgson at Wembley took the team "back to the dark ages", while adding that Brazil would "thrash us" in Sunday's friendly if the same tactics were to be used.

Lineker tweeted: "Don't like England playing this system. So easy to play against. Brazil will thrash us if we line up the same way. Predictable and dated. Even though results haven't been great, felt tactically England were maturing, but this is a step back to the dark ages of 2 lines of 4."

When informed of the former Tottenham striker's comments, Hodgson told BBC Sport: "Oh well, that's a pity. I thought we played well."

England are currently second in their World Cup 2014 qualifying group with four games to go, and there is real fear building that the Three Lions may miss out on next summer's tournament.

Asked about the nation's chances of qualifying for the finals in Brazil, Hodgson said: "We will wait and see. But you're asking me the question, do I believe, from what we saw against Ireland, that we are on the right track - and the answer is 'yes'. Other people will have other opinions. They're entitled to them and welcome to them."

Hodgson added: "What is the dark ages? Basically I suppose we were playing the two front players and asking at least one of those front players, when we lose the ball, to make certain he drops down and helps out in midfield. Just like Borussia Dortmund did and did very well in the Champions League final. Just like we've done in the past.

"I don't know that our system has changed that much throughout. The principles we work on certainly don't change. As far as I'm concerned I thought our attacking play, especially in the second half, was actually quite good. All that was missing was the icing on the cake of a second goal."

Despite the comparison to the Champions League runners-up, Hodgson insisted that his team have their own style.

"I'm just talking 4-4-2s, actually. I'm not comparing us to any team. I don't think we play like Borussia Dortmund," he said. "I think we play like England. We play up to the principles that we work on in the training sessions.

"And on Wednesday, as opposed to the last performance [the 1-1 draw in Montenegro] when I was less satisfied, I went away thinking that the way we attacked, passed the ball and moved, and attempted to get in behind the opponents, was the right way to do it and our defending was very solid.

"We won the ball back very quickly, our players tracked back pretty well and while we played two front players we didn't get outnumbered in midfield at all, we had the numbers in there due to the fact that Wayne Rooney and the others up there tracked back."

The performance on Wednesday brought widespread criticism in England, not just from Lineker.

"I'm never surprised by what things are said and done, to be perfectly honest. I can only come in here and answer the questions and tell you what I think," Hodgson said. "I'm not attempting to change your opinions. If you think it was a poor game or we played poorly, then you go away and write it.

"Don't expect me to sit here and satisfy you by agreeing because I think we played quite well. I thought a lot of the things we did were good. And the only thing that stops me being happy was that it was 1-1 rather than 2-1."

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