Yesterday England touched down in Russia ahead of their opening World Cup fixture against Tunisia on Monday.
The 23-man squad Gareth Southgate has selected amassed just 465 international caps and includes five players who are 23-years-old or less.
That makes the Three Lions’ squad the second-youngest and most inexperienced participating in the tournament.
Despite their age, though, the expectations upon them will remain relatively optimistic.
Frank Lampard knows all about representing England on the biggest stage, having appeared at two European Championships and three World Cups.
It goes without saying, each of those campaigns ended in bitter disappointment.
Lampard and his England colleagues crumbled beneath the hype surrounding their so-called golden generation, bowing out ahead of time at Euro 2004 (quarter-finals), Euro 2008 (failed to qualify) and Euro 2012 (quarter-finals). The Chelsea man didn’t part in the lattermost event due to injury, however.
Their World Cup efforts were even less successful, reaching the last eight of Germany ’06 before exiting the round of 16 in South Africa, followed by the group stage when Brazil were hosts four years ago.
But Southgate is going to Russia 2018 with a new-look side, and while the element of surprise could see them exceed the lowly standards set by recent England teams, Lampard has a warning for them.
Per the Evening Standard, the former international has revealed why he “never enjoyed” playing for his country at major tournaments due to the almost inevitable media backlash England would face.
"I felt sorry for the lads against Iceland, [exiting Euro 2016 after 2-1 defeat] they would already be thinking about the Daily Mail Online going ‘oh dear’,” Lampard said.
"It was like going into a war zone. That was as hard as the game."
To support Lampard’s view, the Mail ran with this headline in the wake of the Iceland result in Nice.
“Three Lions suffer the ultimate humiliation by falling to embarrassing defeat against tournament minnows before Roy Hodgson resigns 20 minutes after final whistle.”
WHAT THE DAILY MAIL WROTE IN 2012
The publication’s recap of the 2-1 loss was even more damning, describing Iceland as: “a nation with a population the size of Leicester… a team with a part-time coach, and a part-time football culture… a team that had never played a knock-out game at a tournament before.”
Pretty scathing stuff, truth be told.
That said, England should perform better against the rest of the world than they have done historically.
Pinpointing why that’s the case is a complex discussion, but first, let’s see how Southgate and his men get on in Russia.
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