The Daily Mirror, with the most apposite of front page puns, sums up England's World Cup exit: Rout of Africa!
It is the best of the headlines as newspaper editors seek to turn another football defeat at the hands of Germany into some kind of national disaster. The Sun page one, followed by eight news pages and nine more sports pages, turns on the players: You let your country down.
The Daily Star, maintaining its tasteless jingoistic stance until the last, splashes on Fritz all over.
The front page of the Daily Mail, reverting to the kind of second world war reference it has previously eschewed, choses to carry a quote for an inside piece by Richard Littlejohn: “If The Few had defended as badly as England we'd all be speaking German now”. That quote surmounts an image of a suitably dejected Wayne Rooney, whose picture features in the majority of sports sections.
The Daily Express carries only a blurb: “Woeful England are heading home”.
The serious papers, all of which carry big front page articles, stick to the gloom and despondency. The Independent shows the disallowed England goal overprinted with the headline: Over... and out.
A sub-deck says: “They scored a perfectly good goal that wasn't awarded, but England shouldn't complain. Germany outplayed them”.
Most of these choose headlines reflecting the thoughts of their sports writers. So the Daily Telegraph carries the beginning of an article by Jim White, “48 years of pain... and counting”.
The Financial Times says: “Let down: England thrashed by Germany in World Cup”. Inside is an excellent piece by Simon Kuper, Football has changed, England have not.
“When German football hit bottom a decade ago,” he writes, “it identified its problems as a lack of skill and passing ability.” So it set out to produce speedy and skilful young players. England must do the same and "stop producing huge, immobile keepers and centre backs."
Most of the leading football writers agree with Kuper. Simon Barnes’s Times article, — Eins (one), zwei (two), drei (three) your eyes: this was the logical end to another dire campaign — argues that it “was not a freak result” but “a mercilessly accurate reflection of England's performance.” He writes: England lost by a huge margin because they deserved to lose by an even huger margin...
One consistent theme, naturally enough, is the fate of Capello. Should he go soon or should he go quicker? The Telegraph's Henry Winter is in no doubt: “Capello got it wrong and must go now”. The Mirror agrees, this time choosing a rather silly pun for its back page: Fabigo.