MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: England's World Cup disgrace didn't occur on the pitch
8:17am Tuesday 24th June 2014 in Sport
THERE has been a national embarrassment over the Severn Bridge pertaining to the World Cup, but not the one the tabloid papers would have you believe.
After just six days of competition and 180 minutes of football, Roy Hodgson and his men are on the way home.
However, to the vast majority of England followers, including this one, that comes as no great surprise.
And that England failed to match their efforts of reaching the last 16 at the previous two World Cups, that matters not a jot.
This was, let us remember, supposed to be the World Cup of low English expectations, where it was widely accepted that the minimum requirement wasn't to reach the knockout rounds, but to play in a manner to restore some pride.
1998 was the last tournament England weren't ponderous and turgid, until this one.
England were good against Italy and probably should have beaten them and they played better against Uruguay than in any match at the 2010 World Cup. In both games, they lost by one goal due to the actions of a superior player.
However, they did so playing positively, with several young players featuring in a more fluid, more attacking England line-up. When Roy Hodgson went gung-ho for the last two World Cup qualifiers when he needed six points and got them, he was applauded. When he stuck with that approach for the World Cup, he was defended after the Italy game and then utterly villified following the Costa Rica v Italy match.
Suddenly the goal posts were moved and with the Daily Mail leading the charge, England had performed "disgracefully," and the nation was "ashamed."
Nonsense. Absolute nonsense.
There are a myriad of ways for English football to look to improve the national team, from the chronic lack of coaching and facilities at youth level all the way to the lack of English players in the Premier League and just as importantly, the lack of English players willing to experience foreign leagues and different footballing cultures.
Roy Hodgson absolutely should remain in charge and his current approach, focusing on youth and playing a vibrant 4-2-3-1 formation, is an improvement on the woeful football under Fabio Capello.
England didn't disgrace themselves at the World Cup. The only disgrace has been some of the press and some of their fans shifting the goalposts as to what they constituted as failure.
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