British newspapers were unsparing in their condemnation of the England soccer team after they were defeated 4-1 by Germany in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
The headlines made grim reading, with both the players and coach Fabio Capello carrying the can for the round-of-16 exit.
“You Let Your Country Down” was the front page of the mass circulation Sun, which devoted its first nine pages to England’s defeat.
The back page said “Time’s Up Fab,” calling for Italian Capello to resign.
Even Frank Lampard’s first-half “goal” that was not given despite the ball bouncing well over the line when the score was 2-1 was not held up as an excuse.
“Lampard Travesty fails to hide England defects” said the Daily Telegraph, while the Daily Mail reaction was “Awful England Have No Excuse.”
Despite arriving in South Africa as one of the favorites, England misfired through a group containing the US, Algeria and Slovenia and were outplayed by Germany.
“By the bedraggled and humiliating finish here, even the old standbys, the cry of injustice and the desperate grasp for the moral victory, had been torn into ruins,” wrote John Dillon in the Daily Express. “The Golden Generation were in their final meltdown. The World Cup campaign had finished, as it started, as a calamity.”
Matt Lawton in the Daily Mail said a disallowed England goal had not been the reason for the defeat.
“Because for all England’s frustration with going into the interval a goal down, this should not be used to hide how awful England were yesterday. England were a mess — a team that were tactically and technically inept; a team that for all the quality of the individuals were so painfully inferior to their well-drilled opponents,” he wrote.
Writing in the Daily Star, Danny Fullbrook said Capello’s humiliation was complete when distraught England fans sang the name of former team boss Sven-Goran Eriksson.
“England’s World Cup ended in catastrophe, as embarrassing a defeat as this proud nations has ever known,” he said. “And Capello has to take the blame.”
Writing in the Guardian, Richard Williams said the defeat spelled the end for the golden generation, with captain Steven Gerrard and Lampard unlikely to play again at a major international competition.
“So the era that began on a hot June night in France 12 years ago with a flash of lightning — [Michael] Owen’s scamper through the Argentine defence — and a roll of thunder — [David] Beckham’s red card — is finally over,” he wrote.
Former Liverpool and Scotland defender and now BBC pundit Alan Hansen was withering in his analysis.
“Against Algeria they were abysmal, but yesterday they were four levels below that. Their performance was embarrassing,” he said.