So Roy Hodgson was as good as his word, as it appears he has tinkered with his team for the showdown with Sweden tonight. And what he intends to do tells us very much about the kind of manager and I suspect the kind of man he is.
Most are reporting it as a gamble, probably based on his less than incisive finishing during training here, but I think bringing in Andy Carroll is a pragmatic decision.
It tells us Hodgson has identified Sweden’s weaknesses and thinks he needs a different set up to expose them.Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, after encouraging flashes against France, drops to the bench.
I’m sure most England fans would rather have started with the same team and tried to play through Sweden, the way Spain dismantle teams. The ambition is laudable and I expect Hodgson would like to do the same but the facts are England simply doesn’t have the type of players equipped to execute those tactics.
Of the last 7 goals Sweden have conceded, 6 have been headers and two of those came in their last game against Ukraine - hence Carroll’s inclusion. Pragmatism you see.
Even if Carroll does become the focal point though, I suspect Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck will be licking their lips at a chance to give the Swedish centre backs the run around. They looked tired and slow against Ukraine.
England can just about afford to draw tonight but defeat would leave them in big trouble.
Obviously, a confident, professional, untroubled win would be the ideal way to move on to the final group game against Ukraine. A game when of course Hodgson will change the team again because Wayne Rooney becomes available.
History is not England’s side – for whatever reason they always seem to find it tough against Sweden.
Having said that, Roy Hodgson has managed teams against them 4 times, for Finland and Switzerland and has never lost. Let’s hope that’s the stat that continues.
England will be performing in an alien atmosphere. It’s very rare, wherever they are in Europe, for their supporters to be outnumbered. Players often reflect on how many away games still feel like they are playing at Wembley.
But here in Kiev there will be 20,000 plus Sweden fans to England’s 5,000. The Swedes will take some quietening down but I predict by midway through the second half, they’ll not have much to sing about.