'Adios, England' - papers blast flops
England's faint and improbable mathematical hopes of staying in the World Cup were ended by Costa Rica's 1-0 win over Italy on Friday -- and the post-mortem in the British media has already begun.
Roy Hodgson's side lost their opening two group games, going down 2-1 to both Italy and Uruguay, to exit a World Cup at the group stage for the first time since 1958. Their demise was confirmed with a game still to play.
"Adios, England," says The Guardian, pointing out that the Costa Rica result had sent England tumbling to the quickest World Cup exit in their history.
The paper's Owen Gibson says the consequence is that English football will begin yet another period of soul-searching as it looks for the answers to what went wrong in a World Cup campaign that lasted for just six days.
Under the headline "Another World Cup, another England flop," he writes: "In the final analysis, most fans said before the tournament that the minimum they wanted to see was evidence of improvement and hope for the future. The disappointment over the display against Uruguay stemmed from their absence.
"Hodgson's future, and the final analysis of England's performance, may now rest on whether they can salvage some pride from the wreckage against Costa Rica."
The Sun's chief sports writer Steven Howard knows exactly where he's pinning the blame for the Three Lions' woes -- on the domestic top flight.
Describing the national team's performance as "embarrassing," he adds: "I have said for years that the Premier League, because of their uncontrollable greed, smug self-satisfaction and the wanton and totally irresponsible spending of their associated clubs who p--- all their multi-million-pound handouts against the wall, have no interest in the national team.
"They, most of all, will be laughing at the FA and this expensive comedy of errors that has unfolded in Brazil. I hope they feel proud."
Lee Clayton, writing in the Daily Mail, lavishes praise on Costa Rica, describing them as "wonderful and fearless" and saying: "England, Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica: a trio of former world champion heavyweights and the little mob that gave us Paolo Wanchope. We thought Group D would be a three-team group. And so it turned out. We just never expected England to be the D-for-dead team."
The Telegraph's headline is simple: "England's shame." But the paper's Henry Winter calls for a period of stability, saying manager Hodgson should be backed.
"Roy Hodgson must remain England manager because he is slowly developing a more enlightened style, because the mistakes made against Uruguay were more down to lapses by individual players and because, frankly, the reservoir of high-class, experienced, home-grown managerial talent is painfully shallow," he writes.
"The declaration of support by the Football Association chairman, Greg Dyke, is well-timed and well-judged."
The Mirror says former England full-back Stuart Pearce believes other countries "must look at us and laugh," with Pearce believing England get it all wrong in the years between the major tournaments.
"Other nations send more of their players to the younger tournaments," he says. "They go to the younger tournaments and win more regularly than we do. We, as a nation, haven't won anything for 60 years at senior level. We haven't won anything at Under-21 level since 1984."
Express writer John Dillon paints a miserable picture, saying he believes "the sense of foreboding is among the most bleak it has ever been."
"This is the tournament at which England got nearly everything right beforehand," he says. "The squad was the correct one, excepting the omission of Ashley Cole. The preparation was detailed and intense but sensible and relaxed. And still the fundamental shortcomings of the nation's footballers have been exposed.
"The plain fact is England are not good enough and do not have enough performers of serious international quality and stature to make an impression on these big occasions."
But amidst the gloom he finds a sliver of optimism, adding: "There is the core of a side taking shape which, given a fair wind, might do a bit better at Euro 2016."