Roy Hodgson was “not prepared to accept that we didn’t play well” after England’s display against Portugal despite criticism over the ineffective deployment of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy.
Having come through hard-fought 2-1 wins against Turkey and Australia, the Three Lions welcomed the side ranked eighth in the world as they wrapped up their Euro 2016 preparations on Thursday evening.
Chris Smalling’s late header secured a 1-0 victory to the delight of the sell-out Wembley crowd, but the performance left more questions than answers with England having stuttered against a side reduced to 10 men after a ludicrously high 36th-minute challenge by Bruno Alves.
It was an underwhelming display and the toothless attack was particularly concerning, with Hodgson unable to effectively shoehorn the triumvirate of Wayne Rooney, Kane and Vardy into the same line-up. You can read our player ratings (without the ratings) here.
Former England striker Gary Lineker was frustrated to see Kane and Vardy tasked with providing width instead of the full-backs.
Also in this system width should be provided by fullbacks not the 2 strikers. Keep them together.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 2, 2016
Alan Shearer was perplexed by the in-form pair’s use.
“If you’re going to play @HKane & @vardy7 then at least play them as centre forwards & not wingers,” he posted on Twitter. “Or what’s the point?”
Rooney was coy when asked about how he felt things went in attack and Hodgson was not prepared to add his “voice to the debate” after the match.
“We played with split strikers,” the England manager said. “When you play with that system, you need your strikers to split.
“If you play with them going down the middle and Rooney in behind them, you would never be able to defend the wide areas.
“There were moments in the game where they were too wide, but basically speaking their job is to split and come together.”