England's formations at Euro 96: A tactical evolution

Terry Venables' tactical plans remembered as Shearer, Gazza and co almost made it to the final…

Terry Venables certainly wasn't afraid to tinker tactically at a tournament, as the Three Lions progressed to the Euro 96 semi-finals. Roy's Boys could take some inspiration for this summer...

Here's how England's tactics progressed during the tournament:

vs Switzerland, 4-4-2

England began Euro 96 with a familiar shape and, to everyone’s delight, not a Christmas tree in sight. Steve McManaman began on the troublesome left but alternated with Darren Anderton. With England struggling, Nick Barmby came on for Teddy Sheringham, making it 4-5-1. Time for a rethink.

vs Scotland, 3-5-2

Terry Venables started Gareth Southgate in midfield with Paul Ince, hoping to get Paul Gascoigne further forward, but it didn’t gel. At half-time Jamie Redknapp came on for Stuart Pearce, Southgate dropped into a three-man defence, Gazza and Macca went on the rampage. Sadly, Redknapp got injured.

vs Holland, 4-4-2

Back to basics. “Terry was very astute and wanted us to be compact so we could put maximum pressure on Holland’s 4-3-3,” says McManaman. “And while we played great football that night, a lot of our success came from the hard work we put in on 
the training ground.”

vs Spain, 4-4-2

Same ethos as the Holland game but without the flowing football. Ince was suspended, so David Platt came into the midfield. Extra-time saw like-for-like changes with Barmby, Steve Stone and Robbie Fowler replacing McManaman, Anderton and Sheringham, but England were patchy.

vs Germany, 3-5-2

Gary Neville was suspended so Southgate, Tony Adams and Pearce made up a three-man defence and Platt retained his place in midfield alongside Ince, pushing Gazza forward in support of Sheringham and Alan Shearer. In two grueling hours, El Tel didn’t make one change.

This feature first appeared in the July 2012 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. Subscribe!

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