It is of little surprise that the progression of Iceland, the smallest nation to compete at a European Championships and with a selection pool of a little over 100,000, to the last eight at Euro 2016 has been so warmly received in Britain. Lars Lagerback's team produced an upset fitting of the oldest cup competition of them all, the FA Cup, as a nation with more volcanos than professional footballers left the reputation of a European superpower effervescing with shame.
The magnitude of England's exit at the last 16 stage is such that football anoraks are desperately searching the sport's annuals seeking for a greater low. Defeat to the part-timers of the United States at the 1950 World Cup has always been regarded as the nadir of English football in major tournament play. But given the financial power of the division which feeds [or undermines] the national team coupled with the distasteful of actions of supporters in Marseille and Lille, it is virtually impossible to reach an alternative conclusion.
Paradoxically, England had shown brief promise during their campaign in France. There were fleeting flashes of encouragement, particularly against Russia, in coming from behind to overcome quarterfinalists Wales and in dispatches against Slovakia. Even during the first half in Nice, though with a 2-1 deficit, there was reason optimism. However, the second 45 minutes was a shambolic, insulting and shameful display which both sums up the era of Roy Hodgson and his pampered, pathetic excuse for a playing squad.
If the 23-man squad linked with among the worst displays from an England team can thank Hodgson for anything, it was the timing of his departure; but this was no resignation. Out of contract at the end of the tournament, this was merely Hodgson being allowed a curtain call on his terms and without having to face the glare of the knife-sharpening press pack. It was a fitting end to his tenure which was professional on the outside, yet hollow within.
Hodgson departs with 32 wins from 55 matches, a record which not so much masks over his four years at the helm, but buries it six feet under. A worst World Cup campaign in Brazil for 56 years has been followed by the first failure to reach the quarter finals of a European Championships for 16 years. Three victories in 11 major tournament matches outline a greater barometer of England's problems. Even in a format devised exclusively to protect the richest nations, England floundered.
The former Fulham and Liverpool boss was never able to shake his reputation for inflexibility and continued to promote a negative, restrictive style of football at odds with the talent at his disposal. England cruised through qualifying yet looked unprepared without an idea of their best team or a system to harness them. Euro 2016 was a failure of planning.
With only four of the 23 selected for the finals failing to appear, the squad almost as a whole should not avoid hefty punishment for their own embarrassing display. Plenty of teams can thrive in spite of the coaching structure above them, but seemingly not players from the richest league in the world and with a total value of £355m. In the space of four matches, the international careers of Joe Hart, Gary Cahill and Wayne Rooney are at best approaching a crossroads, with Danny Rose and Marcus Rashford the only ones to emerge with any credit. Nevertheless, the group have avoided the public hanging due to Hodgson walking.
If a spineless display in a major tournament and a rudderless strategy do not highlight the fundamental crisis English football is currently experiencing, during a period when the country badly craved respite following exit from the European Union last week, then the dearth of candidates to succeed Hodgson surely will. Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate leads the English-born candidates, Guus Hiddink those from overseas. Chief executive Martin Glenn and technical director Dan Ashworth face an impossible job appointing someone to lead an uncertain future.
The Premier League's managerial roster mirrors that of its playing resources from a decade ago; able to lure the finest talent from across the world but not producing enough at home. On the field, just over a third of players operating in the top flight are eligible for the national team. They're statistics and trends which means that any root and branch soundbites which flow out from The Football Association between now and the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign in September, must not be without substance. Otherwise, perennial underachievement will become the norm as the country becomes the definition of chaos.