Leave The Crying For The Children...

Wailing should be limited to persons under the age of five. Gnash teeth only when instructed to do so by qualified dental personnel. We did actualy qualify, remember...

Last Updated: 20/11/13 at 14:45 Post Comment

England's failure to qualify for the World Cup finals was admitted manfully by the manager, to judge from the headline on the back of the Times: 'Hodgson: We let country down.' It is unlikely that such humility will save his job, though, after a night when England joined Ukraine, Sweden and Romania in missing out on Brazil. It will be little consolation that the same fate befell the mighty Iceland.

Except - well, as you know, Roy Hodgson was expressing disappointment rather than dejection, and in March will be selecting a side to play Denmark with players hoping to secure seats on the plane. England's 2013 has been painful at times but does not come to a conclusion until next month's draw. Wailing should be limited to persons under the age of five. Gnash teeth only when instructed to do so by qualified dental personnel.

It is worth digesting that it is perfectly possible that England could play Chile and Germany again in the next few months. Joachim Low's side are seeded and England will be able to face them in June, while unseeded South American teams will go into groups headed by a European side. In fact, as an unseeded team there are more unpalatable scenarios for England on 6 December than will be easy to enumerate, with worse possibilities than the combination of Argentina, Sweden and Nigeria that was the reward for pipping Germany in qualification for 2002.

The twin defeats will be examined by whomever we wind up playing, as will the stuttering displays that led to the surrendering of leads in Poland and Montenegro and the nervous moments after the latter pulled a goal back at Wembley. Still, the weakness at centre-back and the goalkeeper's propensity for brain fades hardly qualify as news, any more than the problems in possession.

This is not to say that losing at Wembley in front of so many people is to be lightly dismissed. Aside from football, to the FA, paying for the national stadium remains a preoccupation and, though it is tempting to ascribe the adjective 'new' to an arena whose surroundings continue to undergo transformation - goodbye market, hello London Designer Outlet - already renewals of the lucrative Club Wembley memberships are a headache. The audience for Hodgson's apology was those of us who make the trip to Brent, or think about doing so, and those who may be heading to the shops with a view to buying a shirt for Junior this Christmas. There is an invisible 'marketing' before the title 'manager' these days.

Those players who disappointed may move from our 'On the plane' columns towards 'On the beach', but anyone selected in these games is a potential member of the 30 and then the 23 because of injury. An entirely fit squad is a fantasy and, whatever their weaknesses or limitations, Hodgson will have to take players that he and we would rather he could leave behind, on the basis of their displays against Chile and Germany.

Yet the hope must always be that players learn from their experiences, the bad ones as well as the good - especially players for the country's lesser clubs, who lack exposure to European competition, eg Southampton's Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez and Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson.

Hodgson would rather his team had been winners rather than matching a record of successive home defeats that had stood since 1977. But after a night when Spain lost in South Africa, he will retain his perspective and so should we.

Philip Cornwall

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