THE walk-up always sets the pulse racing.
Getting off the tube at Wembley Park, the first glimpse of the sprawling arch lit up over the stadium, the whiff of burgers filling the night sky.
Fuelled by tales of 1966, the 4-1 win over Holland at Euro 96 and not much else besides, Wembley has a micro-climate all of its own.
For most England players, it is unbearable in there.
The expectation grows during international weeks, the pressure builds and then everyone walks back down Wembley Way deflated and disappointed.
All that has to change.
With the exception of elite opposition — such as tonight’s prestige friendly with Germany and Tuesday’s corker with Brazil — England should be out on the road.
Germany, the world champions without a national stadium, have played in six different venues in the past 18 months.
They do not have a permanent home and it does not seem to be doing them any harm. With four World Cup stars stitched on to their shirts, Joachim Low’s side look comfortable wherever they are asked to play.
Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern, Nuremberg, Dortmund, Hannover and Hamburg have all received visits from die Mannschaft.
The DFB, the body responsible for the German national side, believe the nationwide tours create a greater appetite with the paying public.
Locals, living within a 50-mile radius of a stadium, are less likely to be as peeved off with a trundling 2-0 win over Lithuania as the poor soul who makes an 800-mile round trip to, say, the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
Try being an England fan making the trip to Wembley to watch another soulless performance against Slovenia, Lithuania, Slovakia or Malta in the World Cup qualifiers.
Gareth Southgate needs to break from the past, tear himself away from the memories of Three Lions playing full blast on the bus when Terry Venables and the boys inched down Wembley Way at Euro 96.
Nothing has happened in the 21 years since to suggest that playing every bleeding game at Wembley is helping the national team.
At times, no matter how striking the 90,000-seater home of England is, the players can suck the life out of you in there.
The boredom factor is off the scale, with the prawn sandwich brigade in the posh Club Wembley seats rarely making it back out for the start of the second half.
It is not difficult to imagine the energy and buzz if England were coming to a town near you in a World Cup or Euro qualifying campaign.
The 2018-19 Nations League, with the draw scheduled to take place in January, could be used as an experiment for England on the road.
It would be a very different matchday experience, with the Etihad, Old Trafford, St James’ Park, the Stadium of Light, Pride Park, St Mary’s jostling to host an England international.
Roy Hodgson tried it before Euro 2016, giving his players a tournament feel by taking them to different locations to play and Turkey at the Etihad and Australia at the Stadium of Light.
Southgate will try something similar before the World Cup, preparing his players for long-distance travel by shuttling them from their St George’s Park training base for friendlies in the provinces.
The FA should use that as a template for the future, filling stadiums across the country by taking England out on the road again.
It will not turn them into world champions, but Wembley is far too big for Lithuania, Malta and San Marino.
PUL UP A LOUNGER
TONY PULIS surprised West Brom by telling them to take the week off after their 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield.
The Baggies boss, snapped sunning himself in Barbados with wife Debbie this week, usually responds to bad results by running the players hard.
But with fans demanding his head after ten games without a win, he has decided on a different approach during the international break.
Albion have huge games against Chelsea and Spurs up next and Pulis is convinced his lads will be raring to go after a week away.
ROB SO GREEDY
IT is little wonder Roberto Mancini is struggling to find work in the Premier League given his outrageous financial demands.
Mancini, who led Manchester City to the title in 2012, wants £15million a year, ten private jet flights to Italy and 52 business class flights back home each season.
The Italian, appointed head coach of Zenit St Petersburg in June, is angling for a return to English football.
With expectations like that, he could be in for a long wait.
MARCO’S A STAYER
MARCO SILVA’S honourable approach to his job at Watford has impressed his Vicarage Road bosses.
Silva, wanted by Everton to replace Ronald Koeman, has reassured the Golden Boys that he will not walk away during the season.
Very much the coming man, Silva is determined to stay until May.
So no matter how many jobs he is offered in the Premier League, the Portuguese coach insists he is staying put.