Patience, they had all chorused.
Dele Alli has risked disciplinary action from Fifa after cameras caught him making a one-finger salute, sparking suggestions it had been directed at the referee, Clément Turpin, late in England’s 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Slovakia.
When it comes to England it is not the spells of ineptitude that kill you – those periods, as in the opening half‑hour at Wembley, where the ball appears to be square, the players only dimly acquainted.
In a quiet, understated way it was some performance from Gareth Southgate as he defended his players from the accusations that have attached themselves to England’s national team and tried to make sense of the disconnect that has opened up between the players and supporters.
Wembley has been described many times by many different people but Tottenham’s Eric Dier appears to be striving for some sort of award for terse minimalism. “It’s grass and four lines,” the England midfielder says. “I really don’t think it makes too much of a difference.”
Approaching midnight on Friday night at Malta’s National Stadium in Ta’ Qali and, even in flattering victory, the fallout felt familiar.
Disappointment has surrounded Scotland with such regularity that optimism would seem a strange backdrop.
There was a period towards the end of the first half the home fans in the south stand began bellowing about how poorly England were playing.
The best thing that can probably be said about England is that they won convincingly thanks to the flurry of goals in the closing exchanges, when they scored three of their four in all.