The worst performance at a World Cup by England, period. Eliminated just 8 days into the tournament and after only two games for the first time in the proud nation’s history.
It was never going to be easy. It wasn’t a great surprise that England were eliminated before the second round but the manner in which it happened left a bitter taste in the mouth.
Two defeats in which England had more possession of the ball, more shots on goal but allowed the opposition to score twice in each match with some of their only attempts on goal.
Manager Roy Hodgson has the backing of the English FA. Captain Steven Gerrard wants at least a week to decide over his England future. Wayne Rooney is “hurt”, apparently.
The two England performances against Uruguay and Italy were barely encouraging. While England weren’t exactly favourites for lifting the World Cup, they were still expected to get one win out of two games. The exciting football that the team played was a treat and a rarity it must be said. The Sunday League defending and the lack of opportunities created were a big reason for England to catch the plane home early.
Only 8 nations at the 2014 World Cup had a younger squad than England. That included having 34-year old Steven Gerrard and now 36-year old Frank Lampard.
England took the most under-21 players to the tournament of all 32 nations – 18-year old Luke Shaw, 19-year old Raheem Sterling and 20-year olds Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkley.
Liverpool’s Sterling has already started both of England’s games at this World Cup, whilst Everton’s Barkley has made substitute appearances in both. Arsenal’s Chamberlain was not fit for either of the two previous matches, but if all four of these players are given a start against Costa Rica, alongside some of the senior players – surely this can only be a positive thing for England’s future.
Manager Hodgson admitted in Thursday’s press conference that he wanted to give as many of his 23-man squad an appearance during the tournament. 15 members of the squad have already made an appearance.
Two goalkeepers; Fraser Forster (26) and Ben Foster (31) are joined by Phil Jones (22), Frank Lampard (36), James Milner (28), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (20), Luke Shaw (18) and Chris Smalling (24) as those yet to play.
There’s a handful of names in this squad you think could be very great in two or four years’ time at the next tournaments provided England qualify. But how many of these do you predict to be World Class players?
How many of these players are going to go on to become the next Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Sergio Agüero, Franck Ribéry or Arjen Robben?
Since the decline of Wayne Rooney, the retirements of David Beckham and Michael Owen and the aging Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard – England now desperately need to be on the lookout for developing World Class players in the very near future if they’re even to consider reaching the final four of a major tournament, let-alone winning it.
Compared to the likes of Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, England simply don’t have the strength in depth and until that is developed the manager can only do the best with the blunt tools he has been given.