Well it was quite a refreshing evening at Wembley last night.
First of all, only three players pulled out of a friendly international. Normally, the England manager endures more late withdrawals than a Greek bank. Only Michael Carrick's absence looked remotely suspicious. But then again Carrick hasn't exactly shown himself to be the most enthusiastic England squad memebr and there was no doubt he wasn't going to get a start last night.
Which is not something you could say of Ashley Cole. He's had his knockers, has Ashley [insert joke here]. His misdemeanours are legion: bringing a gun to work; being less than happy about getting £55 grand a week; and, worst of all, treating Wor Cheryl like a doormat.
However every time the little numpty had pulled on an England shirt he's been committed and competent and until Baines's recent rise there's been no competition for his place whatsoever. It was good too to hear that even if he isn't first choice, he'll still be turning up for the internationals - a rare vow of loyalty in these days of self-interest.
In short, yes Cashley is a bit of a knob, but he's our knob. Except when he plays for Chelsea when he goes back to being a plain old knob.
(By the way, the reason I didn't write a blog on Monday was cos it would have been a gentle gloat over the Blues' increasing ability to throw away comfortable leads while El Chubbo watches on in bewilderment, his notebook and pencil in his hand like he's about to take down an order for two patatas braveas and a cafe con leche. Which reminds of the time when I took the missus to Paris and ordered meself a cafe au lait and she asked why French coffee has got a Spanish name.)
Of course Wednesday night also saw the full return of Jack Wilshere and the lad looked every bit as good as them Samba Boys. He's got the lot, that boy. He must have arrived in the world with a ball at his feet, kicked before he walked. He's a gleaming drop of hope, isn't he?
Not that the others can be too overlooked. Hodgson picked a team that looked a bit more threatening than usual. Although Walcott is still a mix of heady speedster and headless chicken, he looks more and more like the player Sven imagined he might be when he was the squad mascot. Rooney had one of his better games - although that appalling barnet makes him look more and more like he's walked off the pages of The Beano.
Hart and Johnson pretty much pick temselves too. On the down side, Cahill had one of those moments that has the average Englishman hollering "GET RID!!! OH YOU FUCKING TOILET!!!" We'd love a footballing centre-half in this country - you know, a Beckenbauer who can stride out from the back without someone shouting "What the hell is he doing?" But hellfire, you're not him, Gary!
Brazil's equaliser prompted one of those familiar periods of an England international when the back four pass it around with all the intelligence and confidence of a pheasant crossing the road.
Brazil weren't too duff either, and Scolari wasn't too disappointed by them. While praise was heaped on Harts penalty save no mention seemd to be made of what a shite penalty kick Ronaldinho took, as if the lad is above criticism. As for Neymar, well I've not seen owt of him really but you are left with the impression that the lad needs to be reminded that there's more to a footballing great than a crap haircut and some shiny boots.
But it was a great evening's entertainment I thought. And while Andy Townsend will tell you that it'll give them a lot of confidence going forward - that terrible Osborne-ish phrase - it'll be nowt compared with the horrors of a must-win fixture on a corrugated roof of a pitch in Montenegro. That'll be a much tougher test. Especially as San Marino comes first, which will keep the physios busy for the three days afterwards.