Andy Cole: Our 'great' players are simply not as good as they (and we) thought

Forward Thinking

Let's get the red herring out of the way first. Yes, Frank Lampard's shot crossed the line by a mile. And yes, it's a no-brainer in this day and age that we should use technology, or at least a simple video referral system, to ensure that such crucial decisions are made correctly. I don't know why Fifa doesn't do that already, and it's a crying shame.

That incident yesterday allows a lot of "ifs" and "buts" along the lines that, at 2-2, it would have been a different game and then England could have won 3-2 or taken the game to penalties.

The truth is that England simply have simply not been good enough. Germany could easily have been 4-0 ahead by the time that incident happened, and it would not have been a misleading score if it had ended 6-1 or 7-1 to Joachim Löw's team.

England were terrible throughout the World Cup. They won a single match in a group so many people expected them to romp through. It's the sheer, typical arrogance of English football that makes results such as yesterday's so shocking.

Video: Fans gutted at England defeat

Why were England so bad? Because, frankly, our best players are just not as good as everyone says, and the rest of the team are just average. Those who do have the ability to change games didn't turn up to play at this tournament. And by those players, I mean Stevie Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney – much as it pains me to write those words.

I am a massive, massive fan of Gerrard and I can try to mitigate his poor displays by arguing that he can't function out on the left as effectively as he does in the middle, and there is a good argument in that. But it only goes so far. If he really is a great player, one of the top in the world, he has missed his chance to show it.

What can I say about Wayne? Well, I watch him week in, week out at Manchester United and the guy is a footballing genius – about that I have not changed my mind. But he will, in his heart, accept that he had a poor tournament, for reasons, I am sure, that are yet to be established.

I just don't buy the argument that Rooney was jaded after a long season. The Germans didn't thrash England yesterday because the Bundesliga has fewer matches than the Premier League. They thrashed England because they have good, young, well-organised, hungry, ambitious players who have a mindset that allows them to produce the goods at the big tournaments. England do not.

Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger were brilliant again yesterday, and Miroslav Klose had a good game. They're a quick team, and function well together despite being so young.

But then you look at their goals and it was England who helped make them look so good by being so embarrassingly bad in defence. To be caught like that not once or twice but four times emphasises just how poor England were.

We could play the "what if?" game, but it's as pointless as it is wrong. What if Rio Ferdinand had been fit? What if Ledley King wasn't injured? England are just not good enough, and perhaps this defeat will now mean English football takes a proper look at what is wrong with the national game.

The Premier League is great, a brilliant league with wonderful flair. The English players are a small part of it. We should start to consider that they look good domestically because of the talent alongside them. The worst part? I have to say, I don't see any light on the horizon.

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