England make low key return
Steven Gerrard (AFP)
Manchester - The England football squad arrived home Wednesday to no fanfare at all after their earliest exit from a World Cup in 56 years.
Defeats by Italy and Uruguay, both by a margin of 2-1, combined with Costa Rica's shock win over Italy, meant the 1996 champions failed to get out of Group D.
They also failed to win a match at Brazil 2014 after their final fixture of the tournament saw them manage just a goalless draw with Costa Rica on Wednesday.
Only a smattering of security staff and airline personnel were waiting to greet the team when England's chartered plane landed in Manchester on Wednesday before dropping off the southern-based members of the squad at Luton Airport, north-west of London.
Unlike many previous World Cups since Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley in 1966, expectations of what England might achieve in Brazil had largely been played down by supporters and the British media alike.
Nevertheless, a failure to get out of the group stage prompted the now traditional post-tournament inquests all trying to answer the same question - what is wrong with English football?
Prior to the squad's departure, England manager Roy Hodgson gave an interview to Britain's talkSPORT radio in which he apologised to the team's loyal followers but promised an improved performance ahead of the 2016 European Championships.
"We feel very sorry for the fans who expected so much from us," he said.
"We accept we have failed and we will do our best to put it right before 2016," added Hodgson, who has been backed to continue in his post by England's governing Football Association.