Hodgson defends lacklustre England

Hodgson defends lacklustre England

Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring the winner

Roy Hodgson was irked in his press conference

First published in Sport © by

Roy Hodgson cut a grumpy figure as he defended his England side following their drab 1-0 win over Norway, which came in front of a record low crowd.

Just 40,181 turned up to the national stadium to watch England register the narrowest of wins thanks to Wayne Rooney's 69th minute penalty.

It was the lowest England crowd at the new Wembley by more than eight thousand.

Those who stayed away sent a message to the England manager - that he needed to win back their trust following a disappointing World Cup campaign.

There was little sign of a rapid recovery on Wednesday as England put in a slow-paced and inefficient display just five days ahead of their first European Championship qualifier in Switzerland.

Hodgson, who has never been a fan of statistics, was annoyed when it was put to him that his team had registered just two shots on target.

"Two shots on target? Don't give me that one," the England manager snapped.

"What about all the ones they threw themselves in front of?

"Don't hit me with statistics. When we had that much possession, and you talk about two shots on target?"

Norway goalkeeper Orjan Haskjold Nyland had nothing to do until he picked the ball out of the net following Rooney's spot-kick half-way through the second half.

His next duty was to stop a fizzing shot from Danny Welbeck, the second half substitute who injected energy and purpose into an otherwise lifeless England performance.

Hodgson was adamant his team did not perform too badly though.

"I thought the performance was quite good," he said.

"I was pleased with the first half, we probed well, put in some good movements.

"I was disappointed with the start of the second half when we didn't do anything like as well for the first 15 minutes, but then we changed things, changed the formation slightly, and finished the game strongly."

Hodgson was not totally happy with the performance of Rooney, who became England's fourth-highest scorer of all time in his first outing as captain.

"It was a big night for Wayne, there was a lot of responsibility weighing on his shoulders, not least with the penalty which he had to take and knew he had to score to secure the win," Hodgson said

"Wayne will tell you he can play better than that and have better games.

"But you're not always going to give the best performance and you don't become a bad player if you don't put in the performance you wanted."

Hodgson handed a first start to John Stones and also brought on Calum Chambers and Fabian Delph for their debuts in the second half.

With so many injuries, Hodgson is unlikely to change much of his team for Monday's match in Basle.

The manager admits he has his work cut out if he is to get the nation behind the team again.

"I think you'll find we'll find it hard to bring attendances back to very high levels because of the opponents we're playing, they won't be exciting the public," said the former Liverpool boss, whose next home game will come on October 9 versus San Marino.

"They're not the teams that normally attract full houses. But if the team works as hard as they did tonight, show the appetite and desire, and the aggression in the defending, show the exciting moves that were there for all to see, they'll come back."

Gary Cahill needed ice on his right foot after coming off in the 84th minute.

Hodgson says the Chelsea defender, now one of England's most experienced campaigners despite having just 28 caps, will be fit for Monday's game.

"He could have completed the game, but we thought it prudent to take him off," Hodgson added.

"There shouldn't be any doubt about him playing on Monday."

Norway manager Per-Mathias Hogmo was happy with his team's performance.

"We played offensively in the second half and that pleased me against a team like England," he said.

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