England vs Costa Rica World Cup 2014: Roy Hodgson in need of victory to ease long journey back home

National mood will only darken should England lose to Costa Rica

Belo Horizonte

The long retreat from Brazil begins tomorrow. The bags are packed. The Football Association has checked out of the Royal Tulip hotel on Sao Conrado beach. The team bus, with its superfluous exclamation mark– official Fifa slogan, “The dream of one team, the heartbeat of millions!!” – will make its final journey after the game against Costa Rica when it ferries the players to the airport at Belo Horizonte for their flight back to Luton airport.

LIVE: Follow today's games, including England v Costa Rica, Italy v Uruguay and events in Group C

The players will be well aware that a suitably solemn expression will be in order on disembarkation, and the mood aboard is likely to be reflective. They are out of the World Cup finals after the first round and many of them will know that will be held against them in some quarters for some time to come. They can, however, make life a lot easier for themselves tonight if they register one victory on the way to the departures hall.

Read more: Harry Redknapp claims Spurs players didn't want to play for England
Steven Gerrard challenges Redknapp to name and shame the players

Costa Rica have already qualified, but that is unlikely to make any difference come 1pm local time today in Belo Horizonte. Their manager Jorge Luis Pinto was talking about sending home “the mother of football” with no points and who can blame him really? His team are on a roll; England are in a low. Costa Rica have never played a full international against England and they could have hardly have picked a better rime to make it their first.

Towards the end of his press conference at the stadium tonight, Roy Hodgson was asked what he would reflect on as the key lesson learned from this World Cup finals. Perhaps it was the terms in which the question was skilfully delivered by a television reporter, with a reference to Hodgson having his first cup of tea back in England, and all the memories of home and hearth that evoked, which accounted for  a catch in his voice when he answered.

At times, he looked exhausted. When Frank Lampard departed the press conference early, in order to take part in the pre-training warm-up, he laid a reassuring hand on his manager’s shoulder as he passed and it was not hard to see how much Hodgson appreciated the gesture.

“I've learned how painful it is to build up your hopes,” Hodgson said, “to see a lot of good preparation proved to be to no avail because it didn't get us where we wanted. I've realised that, at this top level in a World Cup, it's unforgiving. A moment really of sheer misfortune can throw everyone into a realm of despair that you didn't know was possible.

 

“This game will tell me a lot about the players. It's been a very tough few days and it's hard to pick yourselves up for a game that, even if you do well in, serves no purpose. The 100-cap players will find that hard. We'll learn a lot about the others. I've liked what I've seen around the hotel and in training. I'm now giving them the opportunity, not because I can, but because this is a good team on the field and they can go and win the game. I hope they prove me right.”

We are into the realms of hope now because England’s manager will effectively use this last game to provide experience for those who have not featured so far in the World Cup. He has managed at least, to keep the camp at an even keel. It has been remarkable how few tales of discontent have emerged, although that may leak out over time as it has in the past.

Hodgson was heartened by an encounter with England supporters at the team hotel in Belo Horizonte in which he felt he and his players had been given a fair hearing. It would be only natural to fear what the response might be when he returns home, but even Frank Lampard – a veteran of the 2006 and 2010 finals – said he felt that the mood was more forgiving this time.

Lampard will captain a side that includes young ones such as Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley, Jack Wilshere and Phil Jones, as well as the relatively inexperienced Chris Smalling and Adam Lallana in what looks like a 4-3-3 system. It could well be the last game his international career. What did he think of the likes of Barkley, Shaw and Wilshere?

“They've got great potential,” Lampard said. “Perhaps more than potential because they've shown it a bit on the international stage and with their clubs. They need to develop. They may make mistakes, but you need to give them time. Don't build them up too much after so many performances. They're there for the future and that's good. They'll make little mistakes along the way and improve, and hopefully will be stronger for this experience. Being knocked out of a tournament. It doesn't feel good, but if they can use it they'll be stronger for it.”

Lampard, one of the two golden boys of Euro 2004 a decade ago, has had to develop a thick skin over the years. He missed a penalty against Portugal in the quarter-finals in 2006 and had a legitimate goal ruled out against Germany four years ago. Playing away with Chelsea during the 2006-2007 season home supporters would chant “You let your country down” at him. He has always been a serious type, but ever more guarded since then.

“There was a lot of negative stuff after Germany and South Africa. But people see the direction we're going in. People may forgive some of the young boys who have had fantastic seasons and shown a bit what they can do. I'll happily talk to the boys and let them know that, if [the abuse happens] it fizzles out eventually”.

Even so, they know they could do with beating Costa Rica tomorrow. “The teams you play now, not even world famous teams like Italy, Germany or France, you see how much they've progressed,” Hodgson said. “Things are getting tighter all the time, and the margin you're going to need for success gets smaller all the time. It's a long time since we won the World Cup, but we are world cup winners and it's something we need to be aware of. The task will get tougher and we'll have to get a lot better if we're going to compete.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home