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Lampard typically frank as Hodgson gets carried away

England manager “couldn’t ask for a much better performance” after 0-0 draw with Costa Rica

Frank Lampard acknowledges the England fans after their 0-0 draw with Costa Rica. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

It was one of those days when the photographers look to get someone walking out under an exit sign; the manager is usually the most obvious target but he is staying so Frank Lampard would have done nicely last night with the long time Chelsea midfielder, having captained his country one more time, set now to make way for a new generation. How Roy Hodgson must wish the 36 year-old had another couple of seasons left in him.

Lampard kicked direct questions back, insisting that he would talk about it over the coming weeks in London but the sense here was pretty clear: it is time for a new generation to step up to the mark for England; only time will tell if they are genuinely up to the task.

“We need to improve, otherwise we wouldn’t be going home now,” acknowledged Lampard with a clear sense of sadness as he pondered what is almost certainly his last time in an England shirt.

“Those players (Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshire had all had mentions in the questioning) have to improve. It is about the future now and those players have to get better and better and use this experience - this bad experience, let’s be frank about it because we’ve been knocked out - to come back stronger.”

Hodgson had tried to use this game to start the process of regeneration, changing most of his team and giving some of those younger players starts that might stand to them.

Few really seized the moment in the way that he might have hoped but England probably edged it against Costa Rica, and even if the Central Americans played like a team that had the luxury of knowing it was already through, it was more than the first eleven had done in either of the first two games.

“It’s the end of a disappointing tournament, obviously,” said Lampard with a sigh. “We should have won the game probably on the balance of the chances, we played some nice stuff in bits and it was a difficult game really for us to approach so I thought we did it as well as we could. It’s a shame not to get a win for us to bring home.

“It wasn’t hard to motivate ourselves but it was hard that we were being knocked out regardless. That was motivation in itself, I suppose, the thought of going and doing something positive.”

You could argue about how much they actually achieved but at least they got a point on the board which is better than going home with none. Still, Hodgson seemed to be trying just a little too hard with his upbeat assessment of a performance that, in the circumstances, was hardly inspirational.

“I’m pleased we gave the England fans something to cheer about with our performance,” said the manager. “We showed today what a good team we can be - we are so disappointed not to finish with a victory - but I don’t think I could ask for a much better performance.

“Apart from the first 10 or 12 minutes of the game I thought we dominated it but unfortunately we didn’t take our goal chances. If we had have taken them it would have been a comfortable victory.”

If England had taken their goal chances they might not have been in this mess in the first place and if they could defend against good teams too, then hey, they might have gone all the way. Instead, they will be back at home in time to watch the Costa Ricans play in the second round when, one suspects, they will find life a little more difficult.

“We restricted a team that beat Italy, Uruguay and topped the group, to almost no chances,” concluded Hodgson who was really, when it boiled down to it, telling us that his side had managed a draw with Costa Rica.

It may be a long way back.