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England

 By John Cross

Assessment: False dawn for Three Lions

England were knocked out in the World Cup group stages for the first time since 1958 and ESPNFC blogger John Cross looks back at a disastrous tournament for the Three Lions.

One sentence, World Cup recap

Embarrassed, exposed and out of the World Cup -- naive, not good enough and very worrying for England.

All team assessments

Group Stage: Australia | Bosnia-Herzegovina | Cameroon | Croatia | Ecuador | England | Ghana | Honduras | Italy | Iran
Ivory Coast Japan | Portugal | Russia | South Korea | Spain
Round of 16: Algeria | Chile | Greece | Mexico
Nigeria | Switzerland | Uruguay | United States
Quarterfinals: Colombia | France | Belgium | Costa Rica
Semifinals: Brazil | Netherlands
Finalists: Argentina
Winners: Germany

Star Man?

Raheem Sterling. The Liverpool teenager was England's shining light, outstanding against Italy and impressive against Uruguay. Sterling has shown that he can perform on the international stage and will take confidence from that. He has got power, pace and now, most important, belief. He looks a fantastic prospect who can shine for England for many years to come. He can play wide or through the middle, looks strong and direct and is the shining star of a new generation. Let's hope his potential can excite us for years to come.

Highlights?

I'm struggling here. It's been a disaster. Wayne Rooney's first World Cup goal. And maybe -- at a push -- the moment when Daniel Sturridge equalised against Italy. That gave us hope. It didn't last long but for a while, England were on level terms before everything was shattered. It's been awful. It's been a wonderful World Cup -- great games, goals and spectacular football. Yet England have been mere bystanders. Even Iran have looked better than England. So my highlight has been the other football; the wonderful games and goals. England were the lowlight.

Wayne Rooney suffered once again at a major tournament while Steven Gerrard could retire from England duty in the wake of the disappointment.

Low Points?

The humiliation and shame of going out just eight days into the tournament. It's been a disaster, a huge disappointment. England played poorly against Uruguay and quite well against Italy but lost both. Undoubtedly, the Uruguay game was the lowest point. At that juncture we knew that realistically England were going home. Roy Hodgson has been exposed as not being good enough, poor tactically and presiding over the worst England World Cup campaign since 1958. Embarrassing.

Lessons Learned?

The biggest lesson is that Hodgson is not good enough. He made fundamental mistakes, didn't get the best out of the players and for that reason I think they should change the manager now. I'm all for stability but the national team appear to be going steadily backwards. The FA are backing him until 2016 but by then they could have slipped further behind.

This team is not a Golden Generation; there are big weaknesses in defence, midfield and across the squad. There are good youngsters coming through such as Ross Barkley, Jack Wilshere and Sterling, but England are in a lull. You can't blame Hodgson for that, but the challenge has to be to get the best out of the players and even the tactics and the formation were wrong.