PESSIMISTIC South Tyne-siders have poured scorn on any hope England can lift the World Cup in Brazil.
Roy Hodgson’s youthful squad travels to South America with the expectations of the nation on their shoulders.
And after an initial low-key build-up, the hype is starting to grow.
With a handful of new prospects making it into the squad late in the day, there is even a growing belief that England can spring a surprise.
Of course, we’ve been here before.
The so-called “golden generation” of Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard promised much – but delivered little.
Yet despite Hodgson attempting to keep a lid on the hype, it will start to reach fever pitch if his team has a successful start to the tournament in the opening game against Italy next Saturday night.
As the nation awaits, we took to the streets of King Street, South Shields, to see if shoppers gave the Three Lions a chance to emulate Bobby Moore and the other heroes of 1966.
The response was a deafening “No!”
One vociferous voice was that of Sam Pittuck, 29, who works in the town’s Huffkins takeaway, who claimed the modern-day players are “pampered” and have “no fight in them”.
She said: “The problem is that they get too much money and they have nothing to fight for. They don’t need money to keep their families together or pay the mortgage.
“I watched the friendly the other night and I couldn’t see that passion, that fight, that belief. If I had to choose a team to win, I’d go for Brazil.”
Council road sweeper Joe Devine, 57, agreed.
He said: “England can’t win the World Cup. No way. They just aren’t good enough individually or collectively.”
Retired Westoe Colliery miner George Brechin, 77, of Frost Mews, South Shields, added another negative view.
He said: “You can’t win the World Cup with average players and that’s what England have. Gerrard and Lampard should retire, they’re too old. Bring in the youth, I say. I remember England in 1966. They won on merit. That was an exciting time. Today’s team is not in the same class.”
Former amateur footballer and retired pipe fitter Stan Weedy, 87, from Simonside, thinks he knows England’s chief weakness, saying: “We don’t have a creative midfield ball player. Someone who can create space and set up goals.
“They might get through the first stage but there is no chance of them lifting the trophy or even getting to the semi-final. I’ll eat my hat if they do.
“They just don’t have the players to do the job.”
Nigel Binnie, co-owner of Edit Clothing and Northern Threads in the town centre, added: “There are players being played out of position and I don’t think Hodgson knows what his best team is. Rooney is a good player on his day, but he’s inconsistent. As a whole, they’re just not good enough. I’d go for Argentina to lift the trophy.”
Carer Richard Taylor, 22, from South Shields, concurred with the overwhelmingly pessimistic outlook.
He said: “They need new players. They have no chance.”
Now it’s up to Roy Hodgson’s boys to prove them all wrong.