Pard View: England must attack – but where is John Terry?

Italy are a good side but not a great one – this Three Lions team can take the game to them

For once as we await a major tournament, England's prospects are being talked down rather than up. The players and staff are not being negative about it and nor should they be, but I don't think that realistically too many people expect Steven Gerrard to be the man holding up the World Cup five weeks from today.

My own preference would be for one of Argentina, Brazil or Spain, but despite failing to score against Honduras last night, I can see England progressing from their group and going through one knockout stage to reach the quarter-final.I can see England progressing from their group and going through one knock-out stage to reach the quarter-finals. What's vital, however, is not to lose Saturday's opening game, given that it is against Italy, one of our big rivals.

They deserved to beat us at the European Championship two years ago, even if they needed penalties to do it. Almost the last thing I wrote in my column for this paper then was that England had to move away from reliance on the traditional old 4-4-2 to something less rigid. At a World Cup in South America that is going to be more important than ever, so it is good to see that right from the start of the following season Roy Hodgson brought in a more flexible formation.

What I would also like to see from him is a change of approach from conceding possession in a conservative counterattacking game to dominating play, which is something we've not done at World Cups – and I don't think that is the way we will go now.

As a coach and manager I've always said to my teams that if they have the opportunity to get hold of a game early on, then they should do it. Against clearly superior opposition that is rarely possible, and England could not be expected to attempt it against the three other countries I mentioned. But Italy are a decent side without being a great one, they have struggled for goals, and we are good enough to take the game to them.

It will almost certainly be a tight affair and it will be interesting to see how the two managers approach it if they are level after about 75 minutes. You could see the substitutions being defensive ones, but before then I hope players such as Wayne Rooney and Adam Lallana can get between the lines and open the Italians up.

It's surprising there has been so much discussion about whether Wayne should start. I think he will be the No 10, behind Daniel Sturridge, which is probably the most important role in world football these days. It's a shame that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain picked up that injury against Ecuador when he was very lively, as I would have had him in ahead of Jordan Henderson, who could bring fresh legs later in the game. Other than that the team almost picks itself apart from one wide position, in which I would go for Raheem Sterling rather than Danny Welbeck. Sterling on the right would also allow Lallana to start on the left, where I think he is better coming in on his right foot, playing narrow and having Leighton Baines going forward outside him.

As for the defence, I just wish more of an effort could have been made to get John Terry involved again. I know all the background stuff, but the fact is that he and Gary Cahill were the best partnership in the Premier League last season and would be invaluable for England.

One small but important point: I think the staff England have taken with them for this tournament are their best ever. Steve Peters is highly rated as a sports psychologist and will be useful to the players and coaches alike, above all if and when things aren't going so well. I've worked with Tony Strudwick, the fitness coach from Manchester United, who is also excellent. So the players are in good hands. Now they just have to deliver.

I'm proud of all my old Saints marching on

Unless managers have had a really bad time at a club they tend to keep a soft spot for the place, and that is very much my feeling for Southampton. So I'm delighted that three of the players I knew there made the England squad.

Lallana has got a fantastic engine and fully deserves everything that has come his way. Rickie Lambert, another smashing lad, was one of my first signings, and while I never imagined he would be going to a World Cup I remember saying to him after a week's training that he could become a Premier League player – he got 36 goals that season.

Luke Shaw was just a kid in my time there, but all the scouts kept telling me what a talent he was and we had him training with the first team a couple of times. If Baines was to get injured I'd have no worries at all about throwing Luke in, he's that good.

I actually feel a bit sorry for Baines for having had a fantastic left-back in Ashley Cole ahead of him for so long and now having Shaw banging on the door.

Heat and caution mean it may start slowly

Conditions are going to make it difficult for all the northern- hemisphere teams playing games up in the north, and if it's a really hot day no preparation will be adequate.

Television viewers used to the Premier League will have to get accustomed to seeing some slow matches, especially early on in the group sections, when a defeat can seem like a catastrophe.

I hope that as players get used to the conditions the tempo of the games will improve and we will see some games that are worthy of the tournament.

If Messi hits form then it's Argentina for me

There's something about the words "World Cup" and "Brazil" being linked together that make the next few weeks seem all the more exciting.

The atmosphere at Brazil's games will be something special and although the pressure on them will be enormous, they've got the right man in Luiz Felipe Scolari to handle it.

Can his players do so, though? It is easy to forget that someone like Neymar is still only 22, taking on huge responsibilities which will really hit home on Thursday when the hosts play Croatia in the opening game.

Argentina have less of that enormous pressure on them and if you push me, then as long as Leo Messi can find his real form I would have them just ahead of Brazil and Spain. But having the host country do well, as they surely will, is always a boost to a tournament and I think this could be a potentially great one.

Alan Pardew, the manager of Newcastle United, will be writing each week during the World Cup.

Lovren just one of many looking to impress

There are invariably some lesser-known names who come to the fore at a World Cup, often earning themselves a big move. I will be interested to see how Dejan Lovren does for Croatia after his first year at Southampton.

A few who have already made their reputation and should do well are the Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez, who went to Monaco from Porto for a lot of money; Real Madrid's Raphaël Varane, who will be playing at centre-half for France; and the Atletico Madrid pair of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (Belgium) and striker Diego Costa (Spain), who will both be joining Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge next season.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
videoJapanese prepare for the afterlife by testing out coffins
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford attends Blade Runner at Target Presents AFI's Night at the Movies at ArcLight Cinemas on 24 April, 2013 in Hollywood, California
film... but Ridley Scott won't direct
Sport
Hughes is hit by a bouncer from Sean Abbott
cricketStephen Brenkley on batsman's tragic flaw that led to critical injury
Sport
Dejected England players applaud the fans following their team's 3-0 defeat
football

Extras
indybest
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.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital