England 2 Switzerland 0 analysis: Four things we learnt as Wayne Rooney breaks goal record

Carrick a big miss; Smalling to start at Euro 2016

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The Independent Football

1) Carrick a big miss

For a man who is still not an England regular, so long after his debut, Michael Carrick is sorely missed when he is not there. Last night England struggled for rhythm without the Manchester United man at the base of their midfield, there to set the tempo and get passing their passing going. Jonjo Shelvey was in that role and while he is a talented player enjoying a good season, he does not yet have the class and assurance of Carrick. England were slow and predictable in their attacks – Shelvey was taken off after 57 minutes - and while it ultimately did not matter, they will play better teams than Switzerland in France next summer. For those games they will certainly need Carrick.

2) Smalling for stating job

Chris Smalling’s maturing at Manchester United has been perfectly timed and his display last night suggests that he will now be an almost certain starter at Euro 2016. Smalling’s form has pushed him ahead of Phil Jagielka to partner Gary Cahill at centre-back, and last night they put in a performance of intelligence and strength, Smalling rightly winning man of the match. England’s back four pushed up high and Switzerland repeatedly tried to run in behind. Josip Drmic and Xherdan Shaqiri tested them but England were almost impeccable in their timing, and while Shaqiri got through once, Joe Hart was quick enough off his line to block him.

3) Hodgson changes game

Tactics were not the story here but Roy Hodgson’s second half change did give England the presence, and the threat, to win the game. In their 4-5-1 England were fairly ineffective, with Wayne Rooney isolated and the wingers muted. When Harry Kane replaced Shelvey, though, England changed to a 4-2-3-1 with Rooney supporting Kane. England now had more attacking firepower and soon enough Kane put them ahead, before Sterling won the penalty which Rooney converted.

4) Luke Shaw impresses again

Chris Smalling is not the only young defender who has improved at United under Van Gaal. This was Luke Shaw’s most assured international performance yet, as he played with the courage and pace that made him such a young star at Southampton. It was his cross which set up Harry Kane’s goal and he provided the width that England needed, with Raheem Sterling cutting inside as he does from that inverted left wing role. Whether Leighton Baines can regain that role will be one of the England stories of this season, but Shaw may now be the man in possession.