Following England’s drab 1-0 friendly win over Norway on Wednesday night, Wayne Rooney insists he and his team-mates will improve.
Only 40,181 turned out for England’s first game since their dismal World Cup Finals showing in Brazil, which is the lowest home attendance for the national team since the new Wembley opened in 2007. And on this performance, not many will be in a rush to return as Roy Hodgson’s side laboured against a side ranked 53 in the world.
This was meant to be the start of a new era for England, who are now without both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard who, like Ashley Cole earlier this year, have retired from the international scene. And it also hailed the beginning of Wayne Rooney’s reign as captain, although the Manchester United ace looked far from his best.
However, the former Everton youngster scored the only goal of the game, when he hammered home a penalty kick when Raheem Sterling was felled in the 68th minute. Speaking after the match, the new England skipper admitted it was a poor performance, but was pleased to chalk up a victory after a disappointing summer.
“I thought I could have done better – we all could have done better,” Rooney told ITV Sport. “It’s the first game after the World Cup Finals and it was important that we got the win tonight, especially going into the game on Monday. We got the win in the end and there are a lot of young players in this team. They are still learning.”
Sterling was undoubtedly the plus point from an uninspiring night, with the Liverpool forward indicating that he will be a key figure in the years to come. There were also debuts for Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph and Arsenal’s Calum Chambers, whilst Everton’s John Stones looked assured at the back and Phil Jones, of Manchester United, was also solid.
All in all, though, Hodgson will know that his side will have to perform a whole lot better on Monday evening, when their bid for Euro 2016 qualification begins in Berne. Switzerland are arguably the biggest threat in Group E, which also contains Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and San Marino, with the top two guaranteed their place in the Finals.
England: Hart, Baines, Jones, Stones (Chambers 81), Cahill (Jagielka 84); Wilshere (Milner 69), Sterling, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Delph 69); Rooney (Welbeck 70), Sturridge (Lambert 89)