Hodgson's time with England is up
England can't make quantum leap with Hodgson at the helm
(Luis Suarez 39, 85)
(Wayne Rooney 75)
Roy Hodgson took a moment to answer. A proud, dignified man, he was eager to choose his words carefully.
But as he stalled in the press conference yesterday morning (Singapore time), his eyes betrayed him.
A flash of anger crossed his face. The question had angered him.
Perhaps it was the impertinence that bothered him. Maybe it was the inevitability of the question. But he had to be asked and he knew it.
"No. I don't have any intention to resign," he said finally. "I've been really happy with the way the players have responded to the work we've tried to do.
"I'm bitterly disappointed, of course, but I don't feel I need to resign, no. On the other hand, and if the (English) Football Association think I'm not the right man to do the job, that will be their decision and not mine."
There is no suggestion within media circles that the English FA suits are eager to play musical chairs in the dugout so soon after the Fabio Capello, but considerable damage has already been done.
England went into this tournament not necessarily expecting, but quietly optimistic of seeing the fruits of younger men's labours at Liverpool, Southampton and Everton last season.
Barring a miracle, the Three Lions are slowly accepting the disheartening reality.
Brazil 2014 is going to be their briefest appearance at a World Cup since 1954.
The shock of two defeats - the first a little unlucky, the second entirely deserving - in consecutive games is an unwanted first for a manager to take home.
And Costa Rica are unlikely to be pushover, with qualification in their own hands in the final Group D game on Tuesday.
Hodgson's preparations were characteristically methodical, his behaviour dignified throughout and his manner impeccable.
But his employers may feel he has taken this England side as far as he can. He has mended the bridges burned by Capello.
He has been an affable repairman, but maybe the young pups need a revolutionary at the helm for Euro 2016.
All managers take cover behind cliches when the truth is too damning, but Hodgson's analysis of England's drab 2-1 defeat to Uruguay bordered on delusional.
Referring to the brief period when England enjoyed the upper hand after Wayne Rooney's equaliser, he said: "I thought we'd go on to win the game. I certainly didn't think we'd lose the game because we'd been in control for such a long period of time."
His first claim was plausible, but the second was far less palatable.
England were rarely in control against the Uruguayans and even less comfortable in possession.
Playing in the hole, Nicolas Lodeiro picked away at England's defenders like a kid attacking a scabby knee, displaying the probing forensic precision that was beyond Rooney occupying the same role at the other end.
The Three Lions' back four was susceptible to high balls and set-pieces against the Italians and the failing remained against Uruguay.
Steven Gerrard was off the pace, Raheem Sterling out of position and poor Rooney out of his depth.
But Hodgson was reluctant to change. Matches can be won and lost from the dugout. Cesare Prandelli deployed Matteo Darmian and Antonio Candreva to gang up on Rooney and the move worked.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez gave the right-back role to Martin Caceres and he dominated the timid Leighton Baines.
Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez danced between the lines in the first half, but the gaps remained in the second.
Hodgson relied on his players to fix it among themselves. They couldn't. A half-fit Suarez profited.
In a sterile, often stale encounter in cool conditions, central midfield was primed for pace; a dull, bland canvas desperately in need of creative, colourful ingenuity.
But Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana were left to languish on the bench until the contest was practically beyond them.
Hodgson lamented the lack of finishing.
"They had been nowhere near our goal, it doesn't matter how many times you get near their goal though, it is how many times you put it in the back of the net and on both occasions we haven't done it enough," he said.
He's half right. Uruguay had fewer chances, but England lacked the attacking dynamism.
It was left on the bench while Rooney laboured in vain against a weakened defence.
In recent weeks, Hodgson has enjoyed discussing England's new, improved formula, as if he was selling washing detergent. But the salesman didn't always seem convinced of his product.
He picked the players mostly handed to him on a red-and-white platter by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, but kept a reasonably firm grip on the hand brake.
England were never truly allowed to accelerate, to open up the engine and let rip. The late Sir Bobby Robson unleashed Paul Gascoigne against unsuspecting opponents at Italia '90, but Hodgson held back.
He didn't go for broke. He didn't sacrifice Rooney for either Barkley or Lallana.
He must be applauded for taking a positive stride in the right direction. But in a World Cup where teams are casting off the shackles and attacking liberation is the common cry, England are left looking pedestrian.
Hodgson took a slight step forward.
But other managers are taking a leap of faith into the knockout stages.
As long as we continue to defend as we did tonight and against Italy, then we’ll struggle to progress. The huge concern was the way we defended for the goals conceded.
- Alan Shearer on England’s display
Suarez exposes england's soft underbelly
FLAT-FOOTED: Gary Cahill (top) was caught wanting by two-goal hero Luis Suarez (above). PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS
The words "England's defensive frailties" is probably the favourite phrase for the British journalists and the 2-1 loss to Uruguay at the World Cup yesterday morning (Singapore time) underlined why.
Man-of-the-match Luis Suarez, back from injury and the focus of intense media attention in the build-up to a game both sides desperately needed to win, scored twice to put England on the brink of elimination from Group D.
Both goals underlined his attacking brilliance - peeling off a defender for a well directed header in the first half, and rifling an angled shot past Joe Hart after a speedy run on goal in the second. And he was not even fully fit.
But England will feel both goals could have been prevented.
For the first, central defender Phil Jagielka allowed the prolific striker to lose him and get a free header on goal.
That would have been doubly depressing for England manager Roy Hodgson because Jagielka's partner in central defence, Gary Cahill, was beaten by the same trick in the first match against Italy last week when Mario Balotelli headed their winner.
The second goal was more calamitous.
A clearance from Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera brushed England captain Steven Gerrard's head, ensuring that Suarez beyond him was onside.
This time it was Cahill who was flat-footed and ignoring the most basic rules of centre-back play, leaving the most deadly finisher in the English Premier League a free run on goal, and his sizzling strike was simply too hot for Hart to handle.
Jagielka did not try to paper over the cracks.
"We are very disappointed as defenders, that is the last thing you want to see from a punt down the field," he said after the match.
Hodgson, naturally, looked for positives in defeat, which came despite England having 62 per cent of possession and eight shots on goal to Uruguay's six.
"I thought we controlled Suarez well in general play, he did very well to get away to the back post for the first goal but frankly for long periods of the game we kept him quiet," he said.
That will be little comfort to the thousands of England fans in fine voice at the boisterous Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo and millions more tuning in at home.
England were given the benefit of the doubt by pundits and the public after losing 2-1 in their opening game to Italy.
A youthful side showed plenty of attacking promise, raising hopes that they would be well placed to expose a slower Uruguay team who had been outclassed by unfancied Costa Rica 3-1 in the first round of matches.
The defeat by Uruguay is unlikely to be so easily forgiven.
England are bottom of their group without a point, while Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay all have three.
Italy play their second match against Costa Rica this morning (Singapore time), meaning there is a mathematical chance England could still reach the next round. All will become clear on Tuesday, but English hopes are fading fast.- Reuters.