Roy Hodgson remains confident he is the right man to manage England, despite overseeing the team’s first World Cup group stage exit since 1958.
Having suffered defeats to Italy and Uruguay, the last remaining slither of hope was extinguished on Friday as Costa Rica shocked the Azzurri.
The result saw the Three Lions exit at the pool stage for the first time in 56 years and has inevitably led to an inquest into their shortcomings, with many critics pointing the finger at Hodgson.
It has seen the England manager’s position come under scrutiny, although the Football Association attempted to nip that in the bud by giving him their unequivocal backing before the exit was rubber stamped.
Numerous players have echoed that support and Hodgson himself is confident he is the right man for the job.
“I think the players reacted to the work we have done,” he said, when asked why he was the right man to carry on.
“I think the fact we have brought in so many young players at the last minute, we didn’t even have some of these players in November so (there) has been quite a late emergence.
“I think the players are a very, very strong group, a solid group.
“I believe they are more than accepting of the work we are trying to do.
“They share our belief, they share our goals, they share our vision.
“As a result of the backing of the FA and the people around me, I feel I am the right man to continue.”
Sven Goran Eriksson is one of those that feels Hodgson is fortunate to keep his job, with the former England boss claiming a foreigner would have been sacked if they had overseen such a woeful campaign.
Asked if in such a brutal trade he felt fortunate to get such backing from his employers, Hodgson told a packed press conference: “It’s a good question and I don’t know how to answer it, really.
“Of course I am very pleased to have had that backing.
“Scapegoats are always necessary in times of failure and one understands that after being in football for a long time. But one would like to think that the work that you do is judged over a long period of time and it’s not quite so cynical that you work for two years, you work every day, you do a lot of things in terms of preparation and it all boils down to the referee deciding whether you should or shouldn’t have a penalty.
“You’d like to think that the people who are judging you are judging you on your ability, what you bring to the job and what qualities you have and what you can do for them going forwards.”
Those in power may not be in such a forgiving mood should England lose their final Group D match against Costa Rica tomorrow.
The central Americans may well field several back-up players, with progression to the last-16 already secured, while Hodgson confirmed England’s peripheral players would be getting minutes in Belo Horizonte.
Some of those he believes are “world-class players in the making” and, speaking at the Urca military base for the last time, he bemoaned the fine margins that cost his side in Brazil.
“I’ve got to say in the Uruguay game, for example, I thought we were actually playing well in the second half.
“I thought we were pretty much in control of the game,” Hodgson said.
“Then a freak goal – and it is nothing but a freak goal – costs us the defeat and all of a sudden a performance which might have even received some sort of acceptance, possibly even praise, becomes a disaster.
“I am afraid when you have been in football a long time, you have to accept these things happen to you, but I think it would be wrong to read too much into that.
“It would be better to read into how these players have behaved, the way they have conducted themselves in these last five or six weeks, the way they have prepared for matches and to be, if anything, optimistic with the level of progression and the margin of progression.
“We have such a young side and there are so many players that have just burst on to the football scene or the Premier League scene, let alone the international scene.”
Wayne Rooney showed impressive skills of diplomacy by saying he is backing Holland to win the World Cup now that England have been knocked out.
Holland coach Louis van Gaal is taking over as Manchester United manager after the World Cup and Rooney did not hesitate when asked which team he would like to win the tournament now.
He said, with a deadpan face: “Holland.” He added: “It’s a fantastic tournament to be a part of and I’m disappointed to be going out, but I’ll watch from home – I’m a football fan.”