ENGLAND are rubbish, was the general (and polite) consensus following last night's eye-wateringly painful World Cup-qualifying victory over Slovenia.

Only match winner Harry Kane can lay claim to that shape-shifting "world class" tag - not because he scored the only goal of a truly dismal game - but because he consistently performs at the very highest level, unlike any (not many, any) of his team mates.

But I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

So why on earth do we (actually, not we, you) expect so much of our desperately average national side?

Surely you're not been seduced by our high class, thrill-a-minute Premier League? When heavyweights Chelsea and Man City met last week, there were five Englishmen among the starting 22 players. Less than a quarter.

Apart from Phil Jones and Marcus Rashford, Man U's regular starting XI is hardly flooded with Englishmen. Nor is Liverpool's - and don't even get me started on France's reserve side in north London.

In my lifetime, we've had three tournaments of genuine belief, allied to eternal hope.

1990 World Cup - Gazza, Lineker etc

1996 Euros - Gazza (again), Shearer etc

1998 World Cup - Owen, Beckham, Scholes etc

So that's two semi-finals and a second round exit. And the last of those "high spots" - the second round exit - was almost 20 years ago.

So, to the journalists, facebookers, tweeters and anyone else with a damning opinion, what on earth are you expecting?

Are you expecting Jordan Henderson to shed his boiler suit in exchange for peacock feathers?

Are you expecting Oxlade-Chamberlain to hide the inadequacies that resulted in Arsenal offloading him to Liverpool?

Do you think Phil Jones/John Stones/Joe Hart will be error-free when they face up to quality opposition?

Are you waiting for Eric Dier to be the puppeteer, the new Paul Scholes, who was our last play maker 13 years ago?

And if any of the aforementioned players do not make your "dream team", who are the alternatives?

Jonjo Shelvey? Ross Barkley? Jesse Lingard (who can't hold down a place in the United team)? To paraphrase cricket commentator Nasser Hussain: "Players are always better when they're not in the team."

There are millions of would-be England managers around the country, who all appear to know better than Gareth Southgate, Roy Hodgson, Terry Venables, Glenn Hoddle et al.

Yes, the Premier League is an edge-of-your-seat brand that is the envy of domestic leagues all over the world. But as Public Enemy once forcefully urged, don't believe the hype.

International football requires a different, more subtle approach than the barn-door breakers like Henderson, Jones and Dier, who cope so well in the breathless avenues of the Premier League.

We need florists, not scaffolders.

Maybe they're not out there. Just maybe we don't have much to choose from at the moment.

Or maybe we'll "do a Greece" when they won the 2004 Euros, when no-one gave them a prayer.

We live in (forlorn) hope.