Top 10 conclusions: Norway 0-1 England
1. ‘Absurd day light hours, attractive high cheekbones, anti-social vikings – you boys took one hell of an unremarkable beating!’ Never riveting but reliable, Hodgson displayed his trademark characteristics to bring England their first win in Norway for 32 years.
2. Brede Hangeland got sold a dummy more easily than an irate parent desperate to pacify their screeching baby. We always thought it was Sol Campbell that had a turning circle to rival a North Sea oil tanker, but now we will have to reconsider.
3. Everton had something of a reunion in the back four yesterday with Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka linking up with former team-mate Joleon Lescott. Shamefully Tony Hibbert wasn’t picked to complete the full Toffees collection.
4. In a perverse footnote in the game, Jagielka was starting in the penultimate game before Euro 2012 despite not even being in the 23-man squad. It many ways Jagielka was a roady for the night, helping the stars sound check before being asked to abruptly leave the gig.
5. Norway were typically hardworking but mirrored England for a lack of invention and stand-out performances. The drab display left us dreaming of the heady days that double-barreled duet Tore Andre Flo and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer linked up with each other.
6. Scott Parker has a right to feel a little peeved about Hodgson’s decision to make Gareth Barry vice-captain yesterday. With Parker’s captaincy against Holland a few months a go drawing credit and praise from fellow players and pundits, we think he was the logical choice for the understudy role.
7. We thought James Milner’s starting berth on the right of midfield was a fine reward for his contribution to Manchester City’s miraculous Premier League success at the end of the season. That was until Opta Joe set us straight with the stat that Milner played only one minute in City’s final six games of the season. Educated.
8. The England crowd provided would-be tourists with a helpful analysis of the cost of a stay in the Scandinavian country with the bellowed statement, ‘Norway’s expensive, I want to go home.’ Informative and a fine reflection of how engaging the second half was.
9. The Norwegians are not fans of Steve Kean. We clocked a ‘Keane Out’ poster in the stands during the first half. Presumably a Morten Gamst Pedersen following explains the spread of disdain for Blackburn’s shambolic state. From Lancashire to Scandinavia, there is just no let up on the beleaguered Glaswegian.
10. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain showed enough sharp touches on his brief debut to confirm his status as our most exciting ‘surprise package’ on the plane to Eastern Europe. The eager 18 year-old was also the last person to leave the pitch after a post-match cool down. The phrase ‘chomping at the bit’ comes to mind.