Costa Rica vs. England: 6 Things We Learned
England's World Cup campaign ended in further disappointment after a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica saw them finish bottom of Group D with just one point from three games. It was a fairly drab affair, with neither side producing many chances of note.
The efforts of the Three Lions in Brazil has divided most observers. In one camp, there are those encouraged by their improving style, a more attacking approach that has entertained far more than in previous years.
However, the pragmatists look at a campaign that failed badly, with England eliminated inside a week of their opening game, with Costa Rica, a nation bereft of world-class stars, finishing top of what turned out to be a fairly average group.
Roy Hodgson has much to think about between now and the start of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. Here are six talking points to emerge from the draw with Costa Rica.
1. Roy Hodgson's Future in Serious Doubt
There may have been some positives from England's performance in Brazil, but there have been nowhere near enough to exonerate the manager who has overseen a catastrophic tournament in terms of results.
Yes, England's attacking play has improved, and, yes, there is a renewed optimism about some of their younger players, but to finish bottom of what turned out to be a very average Group D, having managed just one point and scoring two goals, is a dreadful return.
The manager must take a large portion of the blame, and the FA's vote of confidence, delivered immediately after their exit was confirmed, seemed odd (via BBC Sport).
Whether Greg Dyke is true to his word remains to be seen, but it's difficult to see how the manager can continue after the last nine days.
2. Ross Barkley Is Key to England's Future
Arguably underused by Hodgson in this tournament, Ross Barkley represents everything positive about England's future.
The 20-year-old Everton midfielder possesses great quality, and he should now become the hub of England's creativity for years to come.
He took England’s corner kicks in this match, demonstrating his growing confidence at this level and his technical ability.
This is a very gifted young man, capable of producing the kind of match-winning magic England have so often lacked, whether by beating players with a piece of skill or playing slide-rule balls in behind defenders for the strikers to run on to.
There was a moment in the first half where he tried to run past a player just outside of the England box and was tackled, leaving Costa Rica in possession in a dangerous area. It exemplified perfectly his stage of development: supremely confident despite his age, yet inexperienced.
His game time in Brazil will prove vital in his development.
3. Adam Lallana Impressed Before Coming off
Adam Lallana didn't start either of England's first two group games, but he impressed against Costa Rica before being strangely subbed off just after the hour-mark.
He showed some lovely touches and nice interplay, and signs that he and Luke Shaw could have a decent understanding down the left were emerging when he was replaced.
The Southampton star has waited a long time for international recognition, and he could well play a big role in England's upcoming Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
4. Wilshere May Well Have Been a Better Option to Start the Tournament
Jack Wilshere has had a strange career trajectory. At 18, he looked like the next big thing for England, with a talent that suggested he could be their most effective midfielder since Paul Scholes.
However, things have slowed up somewhat, a series of injuries not helping his cause.
His performance against Costa Rica, although not a vintage one, suggested he may well have offered England more drive and energy from midfield than both Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson.
With a switch to a midfield three badly needed during the next qualifying campaign, and with Gerrard's international future petering out, he could become a regular in the starting XI post-Brazil.
5. This Was England's Dullest Showing Yet
They may have been widely praised for the quality of their attacking play against Italy and, to some extent, Uruguay, but this was dull and reminiscent of the England we know too well.
Too often their play was slow and directionless, making it too easy for their opponents who knew a draw guaranteed first place in the standings.
All of which made Hodgson's assertion that England played well seem bizarre in the extreme.
Hodgson: "We've shown tonight what a good team we can be." Way to hand out the nails to your own coffin.— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) June 24, 2014
6. Is It the End for Frank Lampard?
It seems likely this was Frank Lampard's last appearance in an England shirt.
The former Chelsea man, who looks set to move to a Major League Soccer side after his release from Chelsea, has 106 caps, but at 36—and with a move to a lesser league in the offing—it's unlikely he'll be considered again.
England are looking to the future—their selection for this World Cup is proof of that—and Lampard is a symbol of the past.
He's been a wonderful player for Chelsea and one of the best midfielders in the Premier League era, but it's time to call it a day at international level.