Saturday 3 December 2016

'It's a shame it's happened' - Wayne Rooney calls for player unity after Sam Allardyce axing

Published 04/10/2016 | 14:34

England's Wayne Rooney
England's Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney admits it was a "shame" to see Sam Allardyce sacked as England boss but urged the squad to stick together after a tumultuous week.

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Allardyce's ignominious exit last week, after just 67 days and one game in charge, came after a Daily Telegraph investigation into football corruption.

Gareth Southgate has been installed as interim manager for the next four matches, and one of his first announcements was to retain Rooney as captain.

The Manchester United forward is likely to lead England out against Malta at Wembley on Saturday in the second of their 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

And the 30-year-old is eager to focus on football after a "tough couple of weeks" off the field for the national side.

Speaking at a press conference, Rooney said: "We need to build on the three points we won in the last game (against Slovakia), and the other side of it isn't our issue, it's nothing for us to be concerned about.

"It's a shame, everyone could see how excited Sam was for the job and he came in and showed that enthusiasm to the players. It's a shame it's happened and I'm sure he deeply regrets it. It was a decision for the FA to take.

"As a group of players we need to stick together and concentrate on the football. For the FA I'm sure it has been a tough couple of weeks but for the players we've been with our clubs and we have to focus on the games."

The start of Rooney's England career intersected briefly with the latter days of Southgate's just over a decade ago.

Former Everton youngster Rooney backed the appointment of the England Under-21 boss, and also suggested he was well-placed to succeed.

Rooney added: "When I first got into the squad he was in the squad then. He's done a very job with the Under-21s, and he's got an opportunity to show what he can do at senior level.

"He'll bring his own way of working, it's going to be good to see what that is in the next week. We have to buy into his ways and take his ideas on board."

Rooney's role with the national side has been under heavy scrutiny since the Euro 2016 debacle.

Southgate, though, was quick to announce there would be no change to the England captaincy in his first press conference on Monday.

"There was a lot of talk over whether I'd be captain or not, so it was good Gareth put that to bed quite early and there wasn't the speculation," said Rooney, who will also be looking to lead the side out away to Slovenia next Tuesday.

"We've got two games this week that we have to win. Whether that was with Gareth or Sam we have to try and get six points. If we do that Gareth will be happy and we'll be happy."

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