THERE was a time when English supporters were known as the finest on the continent for the numbers that travelled to watch their national and club sides and for the atmosphere they created.

Sadly, like fortunes on the pitch, we are now lagging behind our European neighbours in terms of noise level and generating atmospheres to fear.

Just this past week it has been hard to hear anything other than the passionate Saint-Etienne supporters over their Manchester United counterparts in both legs of their Europa League tie.

You could argue it isn’t that difficult to outsing the Old Trafford home crowd these days but, nevertheless, the consistent support for their team from the French – even when down and out in the tie for much of it – was a sight and sound to behold.

They are not alone – Greek and Turkish fans turn up the decibels each game, Germans likewise.

Now there is no way we are still not as passionate about our teams over here on these shores – just look at the impressive numbers that followed Wanderers to Bradford in League One last weekend and will head to Sheffield United tomorrow.

But our support on the whole in England needs a kickstart.

We don’t need brass bands and plastic bags to hold above our heads, we need some energy and enthusiasm and help from the clubs themselves to get the noise level cranked up.

All-seater stadia has definitely had an impact and while there is no doubt our grounds are as safe as they ever have been, the lack of a general area for like-minded singers to congregate and start the choir off has played a part.

When you see foreign clubs having cheerleaders with loudspeakers and unreserved seating or safe-standing, why can’t we look into those kind of ideas here?

Crystal Palace have tried and succeeded to some extent with their ultras section but other clubs with singing zones have largely failed.

Of course, you need to right mindset as well and the cost of following football here does mean not all those who would get the party started can afford to go any more.

So let’s get cheaper tickets and unreserved sections for vocal fans to get together.

History shows teams do better with noisy backing so it’s up to clubs and fans’ groups to get the ball rolling.

Let’s not just sing when we’re winning, let’s win because we’re singing.