After yet another disappointing, disheartening and disillusioned World Cup campaign, the international frendlies are back – and so could be the empty seats of Wembley Stadium.
Roy Hodgson’s side once again proved to be all talk and no action at this summer’s tournament, after failing to win a single game and finishing bottom of their group in Brazil.
As a result of the miserable World Cup effort there could be a record-low attendance of 35,000 fans at Wembley to watch the Three Lions face Norway tomorrow.
The previous lowest crowd for an international friendly was 48,876 against Sweden in 2011 but this last World Cup performance has pushed fans to the edge.
And barring a miracle, then this will be the lowest attendance at the new Wembley to date.
The FA has announced England will play friendlies against France, Spain, Italy and Germany over the next two years to prepare for European tournaments by playing the big names.
However, after dropping to 20th in FIFA’s world rankings, it leaves little motivation for any England fan to fork out their hard earned money and watch their brand of mediocre dull football.
After calls for a clear out in personnel and the retirement of seasoned internationals Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole, new blood has been introduced to the side.
Arsenal’s 19-year-old defender Calum Chambers, 24-year-old trio Jack Colback of Newcastle, Tottenham’s Danny Rose and Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph have all been given the call up to Hodgson’s squad.
Newly-appointed England captain Wayne Rooney could also feature, however, this is unlikely to get people flying through the turnstiles.
The average crowd for home England internationals since the new Wembley opened in 2007 is 79,000 but the expected crowd for Wednesday’s game is less than half of that figure.
Football Association general secretary Alex Horne said: “We have work to do. We have to rebuild trust with fans.”
If trust is to be ‘rebuilt’ with the fans, then convincing victories against tough sides have to be coming in thick and fast.
The only way England can get bums back on seats is to start winning and winning well.
Even though there is a distinct lack of interest from the public in the match, or the qualifier against Switzerland on Monday, England players should not view the international break as a holiday insists Hodgson.
When he calls upon his players, he wants them fully focused and ready to report for duty.
Of course all players are part of top Premier League clubs and have commitments elsewhere, however by no means should international duty play second fiddle to their respective clubs.
No matter if your manager is Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger or Manuel Pelligrini, players must perform to their highest level for international duty, fatigue or no fatigue.
It is just a matter of time, hard-work and patience for the foreseeable future.
To see whether England can become one of the great nations of international football, by no means will they become Germany overnight.
But, England can certainly put one thing right and start by getting back to winning ways against Norway on Wednesday.
Image courtesy of thefacup, via YouTube, with thanks