SPORT

England 1-0 Norway: What The Papers Say

04/09/2014 09:14 BST | Updated 04/09/2014 09:59 BST

So 40,181 wasn't a bad crowd after all, considering the dross that was on show at Wembley last night. England beat Norway courtesy of a Wayne Rooney penalty but few are impressed.

"Heaven help us," the Telegraph whimper on the front page of their sports supplement, describing a "dismal start" to a new era as they, understandably, appear are keener to boast about their Cristiano Ronaldo interview.

"It was nervy, it was unconvincing... and it was slightly undeserved," Henry Winter begins in his match report. Paul Hayward adds "The biggest grudge seems to be that the Premier League stopped just when it was getting interesting."

The Mirror go with "Fat's the way to do it," after Rooney responded to a Norwegian's jibe about his figure. Martin Lipton's intro is more brutal than Winter's: "Miserable. Depressing. Dismal and desperate, despite victory." Oliver Holt's colour piece starts off amusingly, too: "Ever tried to cure a hangover by putting a big bass drum next to your head and banging it loudly, over and over again? Well, England had a go last night."

Oliver Kay in the Times dismisses Hodgson's optimism and highlights England's "creaky defence, a ring-rusty performance from Wayne Rooney... and an all-round shortage of intensity and fluency." Matt Hughes adds Rooney "has always seemed more likely to inspire through deeds rather than words, which on the basis of this performance must be a slight concern."

Matt Dickinson, in the same 'paper, questions England's new midfield pairing of Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere. "They were not exactly strangers or untested rookies, but there was a sense of apprehension as the national team moved on from the inglorious end of the Gerrard-Lampard era."

The Guardian's Danny Taylor adds "nothing appears to have greatly changed for the better... It is difficult to be too enthused when the football plods along at this speed, the manager can be seen biting what is left of his fingernails and a half-empty stadium is resorting to the Mexican wave to keep themselves entertained."

Raheem Sterling is the star man in just about every 'paper but the Grauniad's Barney Ronay finds it "baffling that anybody who saw Sterling’s contribution from the tip of the attacking diamond in Liverpool’s win at White Hart Lane on Sunday would want to isolate him on the left wing."