England?s dismal failure at the World Cup in Brazil is still fresh in the memory but Roy Hodgson?s team comfortably defeated arch-rivals Scotland 3-1 for a sixth successive victory.
England travelled to Brazil with low expectations and defeats against Italy and Uruguay meant that they were already eliminated by the time they salvaged a solitary point from their final group match. As a result, they fell to an official FIFA world ranking of 20, their lowest since 1996. The fall-out was predictable rather than spectacular with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard calling time on their International careers but Hodgson remained at the helm.
He wasted no time in appointing Wayne Rooney as the new captain and has broadened his squad with several of the rising stars from the Premiership. He has been rewarded with a flying start to their Euro 2016 campaign with four straight wins. Qualification already looks a formality but there was still a suspicion that England had been beating sub-standard opposition going into the midweek friendly against Scotland.
A 3-1 win including a brace from Rooney was the perfect answer to their critics and Hodgson is now keen to test the waters against tougher opponents in the build-up to the Euro finals. They will meet host nation France in November 2015 and world champions Germany in March 2016. Friendlies have lost a lot of credibility in recent years with substitutions often making a farce of the matches. This was not the case against Scotland with Hodgson fielding a side that would not have looked out of place in a Euro 2016 qualifier.
Hodgson was particularly pleased with the performances of opening goal scorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and his Arsenal colleague Jack Wilshere. Scotland were disappointing and may have been feeling the effects of their pulsating 1-0 win over the Republic Of Ireland, a vital boost for their own prospects of qualifying for France. Even so, there was plenty of encouragement in the England performance. Whether or not this will win over their critics is another matter after some stinging criticism over their style of play against Slovenia in particular.
The press are notoriously fickle when it comes to the national side and Hodgson has endured a few fractious moments in recent months. He has also been involved in a simmering row about the availability of club players for International matches. There was no question of anyone pulling out of their challenges on Tuesday night in Glasgow and Hodgson will continue to fight his corner as England attempt to claw their way back up the world rankings.