Even with lowered expectations going into the World Cup, England still managed to disappoint, busting earnest attempts to back the young but all too familiar team like a pinata filled with empty candy wrappers being dangled over a toilet. And so it came as no surprise that in the team's first match since returning from Brazil — an overpriced friendly against Norway — they played in a half-filled Wembley Stadium, giving those who did show up little reason to hope for improvement despite winning 1-0.
As uninspired as the wet cardboard in a default 4-4-2 formation performance was, manager Roy Hodgson still claimed England were "quite good" after the match, while also blaming the other skunks at their skunk conventions for not attracting more fans. But Hodgson actually makes an excellent point with his assessment. By now it should be clear that England simply aren't among the world's best, so instead of perpetuating the cycle of hubris and despair, it would be far easier on everyone to simply change the scale by which they are graded.
Extrapolating from Hodgson's rating of the Norway friendly, we've devised a more reasonable scale...
Making it out of the group stage at a major tournament — Great
Holding a superior team (like Costa Rica) to a scoreless draw and getting home before the postcards you sent your family from Brazil — Very good
Beating Norway 1-0 in a friendly with two whole shots on target and captain Wayne Rooney scoring the only goal from the penalty spot — Quite good
Finishing a match with more than eight players on the pitch and everyone's socks accounted for — Good
A draw against San Marino and losing no more than three socks and a shin pad — Passable
The pass from Rooney shown above — A spirited effort
The pass from James Milner shown above — Still better than a fatal allergic reaction
Losing a friendly — Not the end of the world
Failing to qualify for a major tournament — The end of the world is an interesting change of pace when you really think about it
Winning the World Cup in the post-Jules Rimet Trophy era — A mythical impossibility perpetrated by other countries just to make England feel bad
And with that scale, England fans will be able to appreciate pictures like the one below for the beautiful sky while totally ignoring the poorly attended dry heave competition beneath it.
- - - - - - -