SO ‘football’ is coming home, knees grazed, hair dishevelled and with the look of a man who should have turned down that last drink.
There was no apparently no expectation on England’s shoulders heading to Brazil, and yet still they will fly back home on Wednesday having disappointed us all. Go figure.
After Friday’s nonsensical, knee-jerk, “get rid of the manager calls” we soon start yet another inquest into why the nation just can’t handle major tournaments, then get back to what we do best – the domestic game.
That could be part of the problem. The Premier League takes precedence and regardless of how much we deny it, England is simply a distraction every couple of years and during international breaks.
Solving that problem will take a long time, much longer than Greg Dyke’s target of winning World Cup 2022.
The first step for England, however, comes with a 90-minute walk of shame against Costa Rica who most thought would be the group’s whipping boys but who look capable of doing a job on us.
Wayne Rooney aside, this game should be the end of the so-called Golden Generation.
Steven Gerrard wants to take time before deciding whether to call time on his international career. It doesn’t make sense to do it in the middle of a tournament – but I have a feeling once he has spoken at length with Hodgson and his club manager Brendan Rogers, he will retire.
The Liverpool captain spoke with emotion and does seem genuinely hurt by England’s disappointment but can we afford to build a team around him for two more years?
It is important England start rebuilding without holding on to that generation of players who simply failed to produce when it mattered most.
Looking down that talented list of players first inherited by Sven-Goran Erkisson and then passed through the hands of Steve McClaren, Fabio Capello and then – albeit the dregs – to Roy Hodgson, you cannot help but think what a waste it has all been.
At club level the lads at Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool dominated Europe at times, and yet for their country they could never quite pull it together. Even in the good times it was never quite that convincing. We always found excuses.
It looks as if Roy Hodgson will be making wholesale changes for the final game. I can’t help but feel it would be better to give the old guard a chance to wave goodbye and then start building again. It has become a cliché to call for management to turn to youth after failure in a World Cup but do we just need to find a generation of players who WANT to play for England?