SOUTH Tyneside football fans think it’s all over for England’s hopes of ever winning the World Cup again.
Shoppers we approached in King Street, South Shields, were downbeat on the national team’s long-term chances of again competing at the highest level.
But that negative assessment was no big surprise given Roy Hodgson’s boys’ dismal failure to escape even the group stage at the tournament in Brazil.
And while many pundits are predicting this summer’s football-fest could prove the best World Cup ever, England’s players are already back home, pondering on what might have been.
The competition started with an encouraging performance, albeit a narrow 2-1 defeat at the hands of Italy.
And Luis Suarez was at his biting best – in purely footballing terms – during Uruguay’s victory over the Three Lions by the same score.
By the time our national team played out a soporific 0-0 draw to Costa Rica the nation seemed beyond caring.
The results in group D were a double blow for ice cream parlour boss Michael Minchella, who because of his Italian ancestry was hoping both England and the Azzurri would make it to the latter stages.
Despite both team’s failures, Mr Minchella, 65, doesn’t want to see a knee-jerk reaction.
He said: “I wouldn’t want to see Hodgson go, I think he should stay. He’s a good manager and the question is who is there to replace him anyway. It would have to be an English manager. It has been proved in the past that foreign managers do not work. I think Hodgson is a man of integrity, he’s not just in it for the money.
“The need now is to use the Euros as a rehearsal for the next World Cup and build towards that. Lampard and Gerrard have been great ambassadors for the country but it’s time for them to step down now.”
It was a view not shared by Dominic Howe, 22, of Coston Drive, South Shields, who thinks it’s time for Hodgson to be shown the door.
He said: “Hodgson should go. Every club he’s been at he’s failed – look what happened at Liverpool. I think he got the job just because he’s English. We need a review of the whole grassroots structure of the game in England.”
Offshore worker Johnny McDonald, 60, from Low Simonside, said: “Hodgson’s a good manager, he should stay. There are a lot of good players in the squad but for some reason the attitude wasn’t quite right. Gerrard and Lampard are getting older and now is the time to look to youth.”
Mobile upholsterer Patrick Cunningham, from South Shields, said: “The reality is we were never going to win it. We need a manager who inspires respect from the younger players. My choice would be Glen Hoddle. I know he had the job before but he deserves another chance.”
Ex-Merchant Navy man Alan Fawcett, 78, from South Shields, remembers the euphoric winning feeling after England lifted the World Cup in 1966.
Sadly, it’s not an emotion he expects to see repeated.
He said: “I can’t see it happening, not in my lifetime anyway. The team has a lot of problems and we need to look to the future, but Hodgson should stay. Rooney was not played in the right position – that needs to be sorted out.”
For a no-nonsense female perspective we asked teenage South Shields shopper Chloe Millar, 16, who said: “The team lacked drive. The players lacked passion. They were gutless.”