Tuesday 23 May 2017

Gareth Southgate confirms that Wayne Rooney will retain England captaincy

Rooney Alongside manager Gareth Southgate. Photo: Reuters
Rooney Alongside manager Gareth Southgate. Photo: Reuters

New England manager Gareth Southgate intends to keep Wayne Rooney as national captain but stressed the role did not come with a guaranteed starting place.

Southgate faced the media at Wembley on Thursday morning, a day after signing a four-year deal - with no break clause - and was immediately pressed on Rooney's status.

The country's leading scorer has endured an indifferent season on the field and during the last international break found himself in an unwanted media furore when pictures emerged of him socialising with guests in the early hours at the team hotel.

Southgate will review the protocols around how free time is spent during international get togethers as a priority but he will not be reassigning the captaincy.

Instead Rooney will continue as skipper, as long as he is on the pitch.

"Wayne is England captain," he said.

"I think I said that at the beginning of the interim period but what's also clear is I've only selected him to start in two of the four matches we've had.

"Obviously it's not the case that Wayne expects to play every game. It's important for me to develop more leaders in that group.

"If we're going to be successful we need to develop leadership, develop resilience and that's one of the key areas.

"Wayne has played an important part for England up to this point and I'm sure he can do that in the future but we also have to develop others."

Southgate also spoke of his intention to redefine the culture around the England side.

Rooney was by no means the only player whose evening exploits were highlighted following a night off between games against Scotland and Spain last month and new guidelines are a certainty, with Southgate concerned that some of the practices currently in place are not in line with that of an elite sporting team.

But rather than dictate to the squad, he wants them to be involved in and committed to the process.

"I think being an England player comes with added responsibility to that of a player who plays club football, but I don't think laying down the law is necessary with this group of players," he noted.

"I like to treat players with respect, treat them like adults and there has got to be trust between coach and players.

"There have got to be clear guidelines but it's also important that players take some leadership in that. Look at elite teams and there's a clear process of players taking responsibility in what that looks like.

"When I took over for the four matches I changed lots of things about the way we trained, the way we prepared and some things I kept in place. On the back of those four matches it's an opportunity for me to review with all the staff and all of the players how we worked, what I observed and what we can improve on.

"We want to develop an elite team, we want to be a world-class team so every aspect of our training and preparation has got to work towards that. Now is an opportunity on the back of what happened in November to really talk to the players and get their thoughts and feelings on that, to guide where we go."

When negotiations began it was expected Southgate would receive a contract worth around £1.5million a year with a break clause for both parties to review the arrangement after the 2018 World Cup.

But having moved into a position of strength after a 3-0 win over Scotland and an entertaining 2-2 draw against Spain, the 46-year-old was able to negotiate more favourable terms.

His pay is thought to be nearer £2million, with performance-related incentives, and he was clear that his four-year deal came with no built-in caveats.

"No, there's no break clause," he said.

"I'm taking over at a point where the last two tournaments haven't been as successful as we'd like. There's big potential in the squad but a lot of hard work ahead.

"We've got a group of players I think are going to develop a lot and it's important to look not just at short-term results."

Southgate wants his assistant, Steve Holland, to join the FA payroll on a permanent basis having previously worked a job split with Chelsea.

Discussions around that are ongoing, though Chelsea's strong performances in the Premier League this year mean they may not be willing to let their coach go until the end of the campaign.

There are also no guarantees that Sammy Lee and Martyn Margetson, drafted to the coaching team by Allardyce and retained during Southgate's temporary stint, will remain.

At least some changes to the backroom team are expected but negotiations are not yet complete.

"We're working towards that and hope to be able to make some announcements soon," he said.

"I think everyone knows how important Steve has been for me in terms of the work we've done in the last few years (at under-21 level) and in the last few weeks, there's no secret in that.

"At the moment everything is ongoing."

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