Pitchside Europe

Facts: 5 truths - Time to take woeful England around the country

Pitchside

1) England are woeful

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England's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (front) is challenged by Norway's Ruben Yttergard Jenssen (Reuters)

England's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (front) is challenged by Norway's Ruben Yttergard Jenssen (Reuters)

Chances are, you tuned into the match feeling relatively upbeat and flicked away decidedly despondent. The opening hour was enough to turn even the most ardent fan ashen-faced as the two sides played out some of the drabbest football ever committed to international football. The tempo was pedestrian and effort levels were worse as the 53rd best side in the world matched the hosts for much of the contest. The electronic advertising hoarding regularly beamed out the words: “Win front row tickets to England’s match with San Marino.” Good luck finding a winner, Vauxhall. 

2) Give more uncapped players a chance

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England team line up ahead of the Norway match (Reuters)

England team line up ahead of the Norway match (Reuters)

Why are the same jaded players still racking up caps? The England starting XI strolled around the Wembley grass without purpose, before the introductions of debutant Fabian Delph and Danny Welbeck on 68 minutes belatedly sparked a little life into the white shirts.

There’s obviously a dearth of English talent operating in Europe’s top-flights, but the Norway game was the perfect opportunity to start a bunch of fresh faces. Starting Delph, Calum Chambers and Danny Rose would have at least presented the illusion that the old-guard aren’t safe. 

3) Take England games around the country

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Villa Park, home of Aston Villa (PA Sport)

Villa Park, home of Aston Villa (PA Sport)

It was revealed on Wednesday that Wembley will host England matches for the next decade as the Football Association seeks to eradicate debt before taking the national team on tour around the country. But is that debt really going to be eroded by gate receipts from a half-empty stadium? Taking matches – friendlies at the least – around England would not only allow more people the chance to see their flawed heroes, but also produce a better atmosphere in a more suitably sized stadium. Villa Park, Etihad Stadium and St James' Park, we're looking at you.

4) Wayne Rooney needs to rediscover his form quickly

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England captain Wayne Rooney wipes his face during the friendly with Norway (Reuters)

England captain Wayne Rooney wipes his face during the friendly with Norway (Reuters)

Glorious penalty aside, Rooney endured another difficult night in an England shirt as his touch vanished and his passing accuracy veered wildly. He spurned a hatful of chances at the World Cup in Brazil and continues to look off the pace for England and Manchester United. There weren’t many candidates for Roy Hodgson to mull over for the national captaincy, but if the striker fails to inspire his club and country then it might not be too long before the coveted elastic band is passed to Gary Cahill

5) 40,181 fans deserve a cap, not the 16 England players

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Norway's Tarik Elyounoussi (2nd L) jumps high to make a header in a half-empty Wembley Stadium (AFP)

Norway's Tarik Elyounoussi (2nd L) jumps high to make a header in a half-empty Wembley Stadium (AFP)

Imagine if that was the one chance you had to catch England in the flesh. When friends and family asked about your Wembley adventure, you had to recount tales of Rooney passing to the corner flag and Blackburn forward Josh King outclassing the hosts' defence. Sadly for some of the 40,801 fans who walked down Wembley Way, that was the reality.

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