The inquest has rightfully begun after another embarrassing episode by England on the international stage.
Monday night’s appalling 2-1 defeat at the hands of Iceland in the last 16 of the European Championships has plunged the national side to new depths.
A toxic nadir that we never envisaged visiting again so soon, especially after the lingering shame in failing to emerge from Group D at the last World Cup in Brazil.
That failure was meant to be the last straw, the Three Lions’ catalyst for change for aspiring, future generations, a never-to-be-repeated experience – end of!
However, although progress from the group stages was achieved by Roy Hodgson and his troops this time around in France, defeat by a side with reportedly more volcanoes than professional players in the last 16 of the Euros has to be an all-time low.
That fact wasn’t lost on Hodgson as he correctly handed in his notice minutes after the final whistle had blown at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice.
His decision was so swift the tears hadn’t even been wiped dry by fans present to witness the most inept performance by the national side.
And so the post-mortem begins all over again on where it went wrong and what should be done to avoid such humiliation at future tournaments.
Fingers have already been pointed at the manager himself, his team selection for the game – notably Raheem Sterling’s place in the starting line-up – his tactics, and his inability to make a gifted crop of players gel as a cohesive unit – I could go on!
Blame has also, rightfully, been put at the players’ door, with goalkeeper Joe Hart’s performances in France questioned, Harry Kane’s form dipping at the wrong time, and Wayne Rooney’s inclusion yet again open to debate.
Meanwhile, the Premier League’s influence has been attacked, with critics lambasting the domestic game for creating a generation of pampered stars more interested in the size of their pay packets than anything else.
All fault-finding measures with their merits.
But, for me, it’s simpler than that.
We’re just not as good as what we think we are.
Being English in the Premier League appears to put at £10-15m price tag on your head automatically.
Even a half-decent player in the Championship warrants a value that would probably enable you to purchase the entire Icelandic team and more!
But these inflated prices do not all of a sudden make these individuals world-beaters destined to light up the international stage.
It’s not as simple as that.
We also love to point out who is world-class within our own ranks, just so that we can justify our existence alongside the game’s real elite.
Already Dele Alli, Kane, Marcus Rashford, Stones et al are being put on that pedestal, while, apparently, the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Rooney are maintaining that mantra.
But where’s the justification?
All the above mentioned players are good, very good, at what they do.
But are they good enough to win European Championships and World Cups – or even contest the latter stages of these tournaments?
I’m afraid the answer has to be no.
– MARK McMAHON