England have to rethink or fail again, Toshack tells Eriksson
Toshack was speaking after his Wales side lost 1-0 to a Joe Cole goal that saved England the embarrassment of an ignominious draw in a World Cup qualifier against a side who fielded five players in their starting line-up from outside top-flight football. England's new 4-5-1 system worked with varying degrees of success for Eriksson, who witnessed an impressive display in the holding midfield position from David Beckham but was less pleased with the contribution of Frank Lampard.
Toshack said: "England have a lot of quality in a lot of areas, particularly midfield. But they have still got to prove that they can be one of the top six. Against 60 per cent of the sides, some of the things they did they'll be OK with. But against the top four or five sides they may just have to have a rethink.
"That's just a personal opinion. They were patient and did the job they had to
do, without creating too many chances. That system might have just been something for this game and on Wednesday the system might be different."
His great tactical change to a 4-5-1 formation was no secret by Saturday afternoon but Eriksson is ready to sacrifice the starting role of either Joe Cole or Shaun Wright-Phillips in order to make room for Michael Owen in his line-up for the World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland in Belfast on Wednesday.
The return of Newcastle's new striker from suspension will mean the unpicking of the system but Eriksson has hinted that he is ready to reinstate Owen immediately to the line-up. "Michael Owen will bring goals, if he plays," Eriksson said. "I think he will play but I'm not sure yet. He hasn't played very much football. What Michael brings is goals, goals. Any defender has a lot of problems when Michael plays and a lot of respect for him."
Joe Cole should have shaken off a calf strain that threatened to rule him out of the match at Windsor Park but Eriksson also said that he judged Lampard's performance as below par for a player who has not missed one of the seven World Cup qualifiers so far. Talking for the first time about his meeting with the three players - Beckham, Lampard and Steven Gerrard - on Tuesday night, Eriksson said that he wanted to resolve the problem of how the midfield combined "once and for ever".
"It doesn't mean we can't play either Gerrard or Lampard holding," he said. "We've played 4-4-2 with them many times before and they did it extremely well. After watching the videos of the Denmark game I decided that we had to look at it. When we get into problems, all three of them do the same kind of job. Because of that I took them in on Tuesday and said: 'We have to sort it out, once and forever. We can't have all of you doing the same job
"I think they did well today, if you talk about decisions. It was Steven's first game for two and a half weeks. Frank Lampard is always good but he's not in top form, I don't think, for us or Chelsea. There are reasons for that. He is slow in coming to his best. But once he gets there, he will stay there for the rest of the season."
Eriksson defended the deployment of Rooney as a lone striker although the 19-year-old was often forced to hunt deep into midfield for the ball.
The England coach said that the problem had been a tendency for Cole and Wright-Phillips to drift into the centre of the field which had made the match congested in the early stages before he had been able to make changes at half-time.
"Our wingers went inside too early when we had the ball so not even Gerrard or Lampard could find space going forward," he said.
"I am not worried about Rooney," Eriksson continued. "If you choose to play this system he can be isolated. That's why it's important that when we win the ball we try to keep it so we can come up and support him."
* England seem certain to clinch a place in the World Cup finals before next month's tie with Poland, a fixture which had been looming as the decisive one in Group Six. England and Poland have so dominated the section that both, under the European qualification system, should go through to next summer's finals automatically as group winner and one of the two best group runner's-up.
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