Four observations from England against Norway 4

The Premier League Owl

Stewart Downing was actually ok…

It’s easy to whip the Liverpool winger, he never really seems to do anything - especially for his country. He’s been the unanimous hate-figure of Roy Hodgson’s selection, but credit where it’s due, he was positive last night. Maybe it’s a mark of England’s perennial left-sided deficiencies, but Downing offers a useful variation - the caveat of which being that he has to be played as a traditional winger, not cutting in off the right side as he does for Liverpool. He shouldn’t be a starter, but maybe he does have a purpose as a squad player.

Andy Carroll isn’t up to international football

That was a very ordinary Norway side, and Carroll really didn’t have the kind of impact Roy Hodgson would have hoped he would.

We know about Carroll’s physical attributes, but until he develops an understanding of how to use them they’re essentially irrelevant. Maybe he found playing upfront by himself to be alien, but either way he didn’t seem suited to it. His positioning was naive, and he struggled to involve himself in pertinent passages of play.

As ever, the potential of Carroll adds up to more of the reality.

Ashley Young is a definite starter

Not because of his goal, but because he actually looks comfortable in an England shirt. There are very few of the current generation that don’t look restricted and fearful when they play for their country, but the Manchester United winger is one of them. In fact, you could make the argument that his performances for his England are superior to those he puts in for his club.

An asset that Young undeniably brings to England is his versatility - he’s interchangeable all the way across the front line. That’s a precious commodity in international football.

We’re desperate for change

It took Clive Tyldesley 19 minutes to declare that England were now ‘more positive’ and more ‘creative’ than they were under Fabio Capello. Careful, very little was learnt from last night.

This is the cycle: new manager comes in, he’s a ‘breath of fresh air’, training is more enjoyable, etc etc etc, and then all of a sudden a bad result happens and the press decide that he’s the Devil reincarnated.

Yes, one of the major problems with the national team has been the manager and his approach to selecting the team, but we also have to accept that the press have been a major hinderance to the progress of the side - their continual boom-bust reporting distorts the reality of what’s actually going on.

England were decent last night, but let’s not kid ourselves that it was anything more than that.

Get set to make a profit out of Euro 2012 and sign-up to William Hill for a free £25 bet. All the latest odds on Super League’s Magic Weekend are here, and it’s well worth some of your Sunday afternoon.