Saturday 10 December 2016

'Completely untrue' - Wayne Rooney dismisses talk of unrest in the England camp

Samuel Stevens and Michael Parsons

Published 29/06/2016 | 08:05

England's Wayne Rooney (right) shakes hands with manager Roy Hodgson after being substituted during the Round of 16 match at Stade de Nice
England's Wayne Rooney (right) shakes hands with manager Roy Hodgson after being substituted during the Round of 16 match at Stade de Nice

Wayne Rooney has said that reports of unrest in the England camp during Euro 2016 are "completely untrue" following his country’s humiliating Euro 2016 exit at the hands of Iceland.

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The team have faced a barrage of criticism from both the media and fans after their abject display in Nice on Monday night. Manager, Roy Hodgson, announced his resignation shortly after the final whistle.

Reports began to emerge on Tuesday that senior players had lost faith in Hodgson’s decision making, and ability to manage the side, prior to Monday’s game against Iceland. The reports suggested that the players were particularly unhappy with Hodgson’s continued selection of Raheem Sterling, who has struggled throughout the tournament.

Rooney has moved quickly to dismiss the speculation as false, saying: "In response to recent media reports, I'd like to say that is completely untrue.

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“On behalf of the players, we completely supported the England manager but we understand his reasons for stepping down.”

“We had absolute faith in the build-up and throughout the tournament.”

In a defeat that some are describing as England’s worst ever, Rooney had given England the lead with an early penalty. An almost immediate reply from Iceland, followed by a goal from Kolbeinn Sigthorsson sent a delirious Iceland team through to the last eight, where they will face France.

Hodgson, meanwhile, has launched a defence of his tenure as manager, saying he had not inclination that players were unhappy with his leadership.

“I don't really know what I am doing here, I thought my statement last night was sufficient,” Hodgson said, speaking to the media in Chantilly. “I'm no longer the England manager, my time has gone, but I was told it was important that I appear here.

“I guess that is partly because people are smarting from the defeat last night that saw us leave the tournament. I suppose someone has to stand and take the slings and arrows that come with it.

“My emotions are obvious ones. I am really disappointed. I didn't see the defeat coming. Nothing in the first three games here gave me any indication that we would play as poorly as we did.”

Quizzed directly on the reports that some players had grown disillusioned with his management, the former Liverpool boss responded firmly.

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“I don't really know what I am doing here, I thought my statement last night was sufficient,” he added. “I'm no longer the England manager, my time has gone, but I was told it was important that I appear here.

“I guess that is partly because people are smarting from the defeat last night that saw us leave the tournament. I suppose someone has to stand and take the slings and arrows that come with it.

“My emotions are obvious ones. I am really disappointed. I didn't see the defeat coming. Nothing in the first three games here gave me any indication that we would play as poorly as we did.”

Euro 2016 was Hodgson’s third major tournament as England boss. A last 16 showing in France follows a quarter-final defeat to Italy in Euro 2012, and a group-stage exit at the World Cup in 2014. The search is now on for Hodgson’s successor, with Under 21 boss Gareth Southgate currently the bookies’ favourite.

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