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Even England's hotel knew that they'd be leaving tournament early


Muted welcome: Roy Hodgson's England arrive at Luton on Wednesday Photo: PA

Muted welcome: Roy Hodgson's England arrive at Luton on Wednesday Photo: PA

Muted welcome: Roy Hodgson's England arrive at Luton on Wednesday Photo: PA

England staff were still dismantling the team games room and meeting room at their Royal Tulip base here on Wednesday but the hotel clearly anticipated their early departure from the World Cup.

The place was heaving with new guests, many of them French. Only a few rooms were available, the cheapest at 2,030 reals (around £600) plus 15 per cent tax.

Occasional reminders could be found that the 72-strong England party had been in residence: the Cross of St George next to a Brazil flag in the lobby bar, a receptionist with a Three Lions lapel badge and the squad’s dining area with newly painted wooden boards to keep out prying eyes and one table with a place card saying “Players Only”. Otherwise, England have been airbrushed out of this World Cup. In the hotel grounds, the only hint of football was a children’s set of goals near the pool.

The sign for guests to “bring your friends and let’s cheer together” when matches are televised in the bar cannot have been aimed at England. Nor would they have appreciated the promise of “live music – after the games”.

England were in what Roy Hodgson called their “realm of despair”. This is the World Cup of “all in one rhythm”, except England. Barring a drive to training that bored certain players, Sao Conrado actually proved a good base for England, a mixture of sufficient privacy but also allowing contact with the public.

The players had walked from their roped-off areas through the main reception, stopping for photographs and autographs. No key-cards were required to access the lifts. There was the huge beach 50 yards away and the mall 100 yards away with its popular Starbucks. England players could wake up and smell the coffee, off the field at least.

It was a world away from the five-star, heavily guarded prison in Rustenburg at the last World Cup. England have tried isolation at tournaments, and now tried involvement, but still to no avail. They flew out in the night, scarcely remembered, not mourned. Before he left, Hodgson admitted that when he arrived back at his Chelsea abode that “I have to continue the grieving for a period”.

He will not resign. It was pointed out to Hodgson that Cesare Prandelli, Italy’s coach, had stood down.

“He’s been there a long time [since 2010],’’ Hodgson replied. “The FA have asked me to continue. They want me to continue. I’m very happy that they want me to continue.

“There’s an interesting group of players here to work with. I get no feeling whatsoever that any of them will want me to resign. I have no reason to do so. I have no intention to do so. I think I’ve stood up to the criticism, to the comments and that’s as much as I can do. I’m not a quitter.

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"I believe in this team and that the FA seriously want me to keep doing this job, as do the players, so therefore I will continue to do it and I’ll try and lead the team to Euro 2016 and try to get some good results.”

That journey starts in 70 days when Hodgson will convene at St George’s Park with Ray Lewington, Gary Neville and Dave Watson before the Wembley friendly with Norway on Sept 3 and then the Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland in Basle on Sept 8.

England’s video man is working on “cutting up” clips of performances in Brazil which will be presented to Hodgson and his staff.

“We will all sit down together before we start our next campaign to see what did we learn from the World Cup, what did we learn about our players, what did we learn about the way we want to play, what do we think we can push forward and if we made any glaring mistakes then what can we do to make sure we don’t make them again,” Hodgson said.

Hodgson will receive a report on trends and tactics at the World Cup from Dan Ashworth and Gareth Southgate, who continue scouting in Brazil, and will continue talking to Club England about the future development of the team.

There was an element of clutching at straws as Hodgson searched for positives but he took heart from the attitude in the dead-rubber draw with Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte.

Since being knocked out, England’s players had suffered “four days of absolute misery” but the likes of Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere performed well enough against Costa Rica.

“I would defy anyone to question the determination, spirit and desire of the team,” said Hodgson.

As England staff broke camp at Sao Conrado, Hodgson was still wrestling with many issues. He wants Steven Gerrard, 34, and Frank Lampard, 36, to stay on when many observers understandably want a clean break with the push towards Euro 2016 coming from a squad of under-30s.

“If the question is 'could they still play a part' then obviously the answer is ‘yes’,’’ Hodgson said of Gerrard and Lampard. “It would be nice if they don’t formally retire because when players do that they disappear from England selection. Leave it to a dialogue perhaps whereby at any moment in time I could speak to one of them and say: ‘Look, do you want to play in this game, are you up for it?’ That’s how I’d really like to see it.’’

He acknowledged that Rooney is in the frame for captaincy if Gerrard goes.

He defended Steve Peters’s involvement as the psychiatrist to a squad with such brittle belief.

“He’s been very, very good with the individual players. The nutritionist, extra fitness coach and Steve Peters have all been very valuable members of our squad and helped us prepare better.”

Hodgson will take with him the memory of England fans’ “fantastic” ovation at the final whistle in Belo Horizonte. Explanation of the fans’ reaction came from one of their best-known members, Dean Cornish.

“The scenes afterwards in Belo were also superb,’’ Cornish tweeted. “A poor team being supported until the end. Congas, new songs, and upbeat support. Fantastic. Homages to Lampard, Gerrard, Rooney, Hodgson and the rest of the side that ‘the man in the pub’ would never understand. Support unquestioned.

"That’s not to say England fans are happy with performances. Not good enough. They’ve not performed. One day they will and those who support in ‘bad’ times will deserve it. One day we will be back.’’

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