For an International it had the feel of a pre-season friendly. A half empty stadium in Switzerland, both sides missing many of their big names, and a game not played at full pace.
For Roy Hodgson it was a return to the country whose national team he once managed and a chance to have another crack at the Italians who outplayed his England side during Euro 2012 and fully deserved their win on penalties. This time, Hodgson’s unbeaten record from open play remained intact as England came from behind to win.
Manchester City target Daniele De Rossi headed in Alessandro Diamante’s corner to put Italy into the lead but Phil Jagielka’s header levelled matters before substitute Jermain Defoe struck a sweet winner ten minutes from time.
There was little to learn against an Italian team whose players are probably a couple of weeks behind the English-based players in terms of fitness but a switch to the 4-2-3-1 formation, which is common in the Barclays Premier League since Jose Mourinho won the title using that formation with Chelsea almost a decade ago, showed that Hodgson is flexible enough to try out different tactics.
Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley, one of five debutants including Jack Butland, John Ruddy, Ryan Bertrand, and Jake Livermore played in an advanced midfield role behind Andy Carroll who was a lone striker.
Cleverley showed enough promise in the role to suggest that he could make a difference behind a lone striker but needs enough game time at Manchester United to play his way into proper England contention.