Gerrard jumps to defence of Eriksson's experiment

Steven Gerrard delivered a robust defence of Sven Goran Eriksson and his final preparations for the World Cup yesterday when he heralded the experimental formation against Hungary as evidence that England can succeed without Wayne Rooney in Germany.

England's penultimate game before their World Cup campaign commences on 10 June generated as many dilemmas as solutions for Eriksson on Tuesday, with the Swede abandoning his plan to deploy Jamie Carragher as a holding midfielder after a poor first-half performance but not, ironically, from the Liverpool centre-half who replaced the injured right-back Gary Neville at the interval.

Gerrard added to the uncertainty surrounding Eriksson's tactical approach with a contribution that mirrored that of the England team, improving immeasurably after his 47th-minute header had opened the scoring but also when he began to influence proceedings by adopting a deeper position in the second half.

The Liverpool captain, however, believes the decision to employ him behind lone striker Michael Owen was vindicated by the ultimate victory at Old Trafford and, that with Saturday's friendly against Jamaica and more than a week of training remaining before the opening World Cup game against Paraguay, England have ample time to make the 4-1-3-1-1 system work before they set foot in the Waldstadion in Frankfurt the following Saturday.

"People might have seen the system as Plan C but it worked against Hungary," Gerrard said. "We proved against Hungary that we have a strong squad as, despite having a couple of injuries, we adapted very well. They played quite deep and it was hard to get on the ball at times but we had to be patient and wait for the breakthrough.

"We were unlucky not to have the game sewn up by half-time. Their No 6 [Balazs Molnar] was shackling me and following me everywhere, so at half-time the manager said that, if he continues to do so, try to come deeper to get on the ball. I knew he wouldn't have the energy levels to do it for 90 minutes, so I knew I'd get on the ball eventually and that is what happened."

Gerrard's plea for patience with the new formation may go unheeded by Eriksson himself if Peter Crouch is recalled alongside Michael Owen on Saturday following his goalscoring performance against Hungary, although the Liverpool midfielder is convinced he can provide a viable alternative to an England team lacking the ingenuity of Rooney.

He added: "I have played in four or five different positions for Liverpool this season and I'm quite comfortable when I have to adapt. I enjoyed the role against Hungary and I enjoy getting into the box and scoring goals. I scored 23 for Liverpool last season and I think I proved against Hungary that I can do a job in there.

"I'm never going to be able to match Wayne Rooney in that position, but if he's not going to be fit for the first couple of games then I'm prepared to give it my best in that role."

Gerrard's confidence in Eriksson's system was shared by the England captain, David Beckham, who ­ along with revealing yesterday that Rooney was buoyant about playing in Germany despite the decision to bring forward the date of a scan on his broken metatarsal ­ insisted that Eriksson and his assistant, Steve McClaren, were correct to experiment so close to a World Cup campaign.

Beckham said: "What the manager and Steve are doing is giving us options. You have to see if those options work when you play friendly games. We did that against Hungary and it's never too late to try things out. It was an encouraging performance. Jamie Carragher proved he can play as a holding midfielder, and you need to have different options at a World Cup."

Carragher said he was disappointed by Eriksson's decision to grant him only 45 minutes to adjust and impress in an unaccustomed role at Old Trafford, but believes the system will succeed at the World Cup provided it is allowed the time he was denied.

"I was surprised when the manager asked if I fancied playing in that position, but I was just happy to have been asked to play at all," the Liverpool defender said. "I certainly had enough time to get my head around it and I was disappointed that I didn't get a full 90 minutes in there, but you have to look after your top players and Gary Neville is one of those top players.

"We have a lot of attack-minded players in midfield and then we have Stevie playing further up. We also have two full-backs who like to attack so I think the system can work."

Suggested Topics
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Sport
Alexis Sanchez missed a penalty before scoring the opening goal with a header at the back post
footballArsenal vs QPR match report
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
i100
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all