Soccer

Butler: Brazil 2014 is England's worst showing at a World Cup

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Noel Butler
6/21/2014 4:44:45 PM
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Put your socks back on, turn off your calculators and no need to study up on the law of probability after Costa Rica followed up their demolition of Uruguay with a thoroughly well-deserved victory over Italy, the 1966 World Cup winners can pack their bags for home. 

You have to go all the way back to Sweden 1958 for the last time England was knocked out of a World Cup at the Group Stage.  At least then England went into their third and final group game against the Soviet Union knowing even a draw may have been enough to reach the knockout stage. 

Outside of other World Cups where England were either not permitted to enter, or were eliminated in qualifying, Brazil 2014 now ranks as their worst ever showing at a World Cup. This for the nation that sowed Planet Futbol's roots.

They may have performed admirably against Brazil last spring when they drew the hosts 2-2 to launch the renovated Maracana but England and Brazilian World Cups make strange bedfellows. Humbled by the US, they also failed to advance from the group when Brazil last hosted in 1950.

The tabloid daggers will be calling for Roy Hodgson's head.  Any thought of that, though, has been dismissed by the FA chairman, Greg Dyke who throws his full support behind the beleaguered manager and stated Hodgson would lead England through EURO 2016.

From technical deficiencies, an inability to maintain possession or tactical naivety right on through the plethora of theories which abound, the plain fact of the matter is England don't do international football tournaments.

Their 14th appearance at a World Cup, and outside of the lone triumph on home soil in 1966, Italia 90 was the only other time England have got past the quarterfinal stage

Underprepared was the excuse trotted out for SA2010, what was it this time?

An excuse which will get trotted out is the abundance of overseas players in the Barclays Premier League which limits the prospects and options of English players at the top level.  When I was a kid, England failed to qualify for the 1974 and 1978 World Cup's at a time a significant majority of the players in the top flight were English. 

It will take more than regular appointments with globally renowned Sports Psychologist, Dr. Steve Peters who joined Hodgson's backroom staff back in March, to understand why failure stalks and hounds England.

Having worked marvels with the London 2012 GB Cycling Team, Peters' was tasked with ensuring England played with an absence of fear. Hardly. Level heads don't aimlessly hoof balls away, as we often saw when Uruguay threatened.

As all good dramas need a villain, so who better than England's Tormentor in Chief on Thursday, Luis Suarez.  David Beckham filled that role in 1998 after he was sent off in the Round of 16 match against Argentina. 

Such was the outcry still months later, an effigy of Beckham was hung up outside a pub near West Ham's ground on the day Manchester United were playing at Upton Park. Anything like that occurs; Suarez could use it as reason not to return to Liverpool.

Earlier on Friday the Spanish newspaper, El Mundo Deportivo reported there is a €80m ($110m) release clause in the Uruguayan's contract that Barcelona are close to striking. 

The post-match comments from Suarez where he rebuked the English public and took to task Roy Hodgson could be taken as an indicator of an Anfield exit strategy.

In the mould of the French Football Federation's Clairefontaine, or the FIGC's Coverciano facility the opening in late 2012 of St George's Park which is home to all levels for both the England men and women's national teams will certainly be of benefit to the next generation. 

However, for the more senior members of the squad this was their last shot at World Cup glory.
Following one of his worst performances in an England shirt Thursday, where his mistakes led to both of Uruguay's goals, it was not the way Steven Gerrard would have wanted to exit the international arena.

The Liverpool captain is expected to announce his international retirement following the World Cup. This may come even as early as following the final whistle next Tuesday when Costa Rica will be looking for the scalp of a previous World Cup champ for a third straight time game. 

Not bad for an island nation.

Noel.Butler@BellMedia.ca
@TheSoccerNoel on Twitter

TSN Radio is an official licensed radio broadcaster of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Brazil. Check www.tsn.ca/radio for the broadcast schedule in your home town.

Joe Hart (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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