When the draw was made for the group stage of this summer’s World Cup, England fans were relatively pleased with the result. The feeling among most was that while it would not be an easy ride, it could have been a lot worse.
Italy were always a threat, while Uruguay had Luis Suarez, but Roy Hodgson’s men could make it to the knock-out stages and from there, anything could happen.
But just nine days into football’s biggest competition England were out, with the so-called minnows of the group hammering the final nail into a well-worn coffin.
Costa Rica were – somewhat naively as it turned out – dubbed the “whipping boys” of the group. They were the small-fry against whom England were guaranteed a victory.
But instead Bryan Ruiz and his impressive teammates knocked Hodgson’s side out without even playing them.
In beating Uruguay and Italy, the Costa Ricans showed there was only one minnow in Group D, and that was England.
The time has come to stop thinking of the England national team as a footballing giant, or even a challenger. We do not even have the comfort of plucky penalty shoot-out defeats to fall back on now, just losses inside 90 minutes that prove how average we have become.
In watching Mexico, Chile and Colombia show exactly what teamwork and passion look like, and seeing France and Germany run amok with swift attacking play, English fans have seen all the things their own side lack.
It is not always about having the best players in the world, just utilising what you have at your disposal. Even minnows can do that and – based on what we have seen over the last few days – the England team has no right to call themselves anything more.