Football

England fans should not turn their backs on the national side

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40,181. That was the number of fans at Wembley Stadium for England's friendly clash with Norway on Wednesday - a new record low as fans boycotted a ground that can hold more than twice that number.

It has, to say the least, been an amazing turnaround regarding the popular mood surrounding the English national setup. Before the World Cup, the masses had been excited by a young, vibrant  squad.

Change in mood

A squad that was invigorated by the pace of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, inspired by the skill of Raheem Sterling and charismatically led by the iconic figure that is Steven Gerrard. The mood was very positive.

But a campaign featuring two losses one draw - in what many considered as the group of death - changed that mood. Hope and excitement turned to anger, frustration, and the lowest ever attendance at the new Wembley.

Too much hype

In hindsight, England fans were wrong to put so much hype onto their team. Did anyone ever truly expect England to advance to the quarte- finals, or to the first knockout round, in a group that included the Euro 2012 finalists and 2010 World Cup fourth-place finishers? Probably not. So why did England fans so readily turn their back on the team?

The performances, although naive, were not awful. In the Italy match a young side was defeated because they were dependent on speed and power - a difficult attack to sustain over 90 minutes in the extreme humidity of the Amazon rainforest.

In the Uruguay match one mistake - one - led to their demise. But previous to that goal kick error, the side had looked brilliant to come back from behind, and were certainly looking the better team for a second goal.

For the third match with surprise package Costa Rica, Roy Hodgson played everyone else in the squad, and they still managed a draw against a side that would take the Netherlands to penalty kicks.

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England fans turn their backs on national team

Future IS bright

And yet, for some reason, England fans are boycotting their team. The World Cup was a reality check, and England fans have, disappointingly, failed to see that. A squad full of youth, with a long way to go, learned what it was like to play at a top, top level. The future of this squad is bright.

The talent is there. Sterling,  Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaw, Sturridge - the list goes on and on. England fans should not be boycotting a team with such youthful talent. They deserve patience as they learn the ropes of international football.

It will be Euro 2016 that is the true test for this English squad. If then, and only then, the team churns out abysmal performances, then boycotting might be justified.

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