It has been reported that Manchester United legend Paul Scholes blamed a half-full Wembley on England’s flat performance for victory over Norway.
The 39 year old wrote in the London Evening Standard: “As a Manchester United footballer my whole professional career I can count on the fingers of one hand the times that I walked onto a pitch and saw rows of empty seats in the stadium but I can tell you that on those rare occasions it did have an effect on me.
“An FA Cup tie we lost at Middlesbrough 12 years ago in front of less than 20,000 springs to mind, and I was reminded of that game when I watched England on Wednesday night. Being a footballer at the elite level is about playing in front of a full house: the noise, the pressure, the fire in your belly as you step out into that atmosphere. Take it away and it can be difficult to get going.
“As a professional footballer, even as an international, it can be hard to gain momentum against a team as poor as Norway — in front of a stadium that is half-full and quiet. Yes, you know you absolutely have a professional obligation to play well but life, football, is rarely that simple. Don’t underestimate the effect it can have on players.”