It was supposed to be so different. For the first time in a long while, England entered the World Cup following a near flawless qualifying campaign, with the so-called 'golden generation' of players at their peaks and playing with confidence under a manager the nation believed in.
And so when England failed to reach the quarter finals, the stage that had become the minimum expectation of the fans and media, the inquest began. Had Fabio Capello lost the players? Was his rigid 4-4-2 formation predictable and outdated? Did England possess players with the technical skill to even attempt a change to a more fluid system?
In the doom and gloom that surrounded England's exit, the answers to the above questions seemed to be yes, yes and no. But the FA's decision to stick with Capello through the upcoming European Championship's was a sensible one and Capello's vow "to introduce new players to give the team new energy" is, in my opinion, a reason for optimism. But what players really represent the future of the England team?