Football

Blame Hodgson

Rooney says Euro exit down to ex-manager's selection gamble against Slovakia

A big gamble that backfired big time.

If it were left to skipper Wayne Rooney, he would never have made six changes for England's final group match against Slovakia at Euro 2016.

The subsequent goalless draw cost England first place in their group and Rooney, who was one of those rested by Roy Hodgson, said that the loss of momentum caused by the former manager's decision was instrumental in the team's stunning last-16 defeat by minnows Iceland.

"I wouldn't have rested six players. It's more than half the team. It was a gamble and it didn't pay off," Rooney told the Daily Mail yesterday.

"We had lost momentum from the Slovakia game and tournament football is about confidence. You get that from winning.

"We didn't play great in the friendlies, but we won. So you try to build, even from before the tournament, but we couldn't get that consistency once it began.

"It was Roy's decision to make changes against Slovakia and either way, the team he put out should have been able to win.

"But, right or wrong, I wanted to play and I can't deny that."

Rooney came on as a substitute against Slovakia, but the 30-year-old insisted that Hodgson, who stepped down immediately after the Iceland debacle, should have retained the team that defeated Wales in the previous fixture.

"When I came on against Slovakia, it was difficult to change the game, impossible really. I was running around just trying to get the energy back into the team," he said.

"Watching, I felt we lacked aggression - in the running, in the passing, we didn't have the tempo, so that's what I was trying to create."

KANE'S CORNER DUTY

Rooney also revealed that it was his decision to stop Harry Kane from taking corners at Euro 2016.

Kane took all six corners in the opening game of England's ill-fated campaign against Russia in Marseille.

Hodgson was heavily criticised for employing last season's 25-goal top English Premier League scorer in this way and Rooney has now said he intervened in the matter.

Asked in an interview with the Daily Mail if it was his decision to relieve Kane of corner duty, Rooney simply replied: "Yes."

Former England striker Alan Shearer was among those to criticise Hodgson at the time, saying Kane was "well within his rights" to tell the manager that he should be in the penalty area on the end of corners rather than taking them.

Shearer said Rooney and Adam Lallana were better suited to the role, and now Kane's club manager Mauricio Pochettino has expressed his surprise at Hodgson's call in France.

"I don't want to criticise," Tottenham boss Pochettino told the Daily Mail.

"But Harry is a top scorer, so why is he taking free-kicks or corners if his skill is to score? You need him to stay in the box, not outside."

Rooney, meanwhile, said that he will continue playing for England for at least two more years - whether he is captain or not.

New England boss Sam Allardyce has remained tight-lipped over the Manchester United player's future as the Three Lions skipper since his appointment.

Allardyce has said he will reveal his decision when the squad meet up for their World Cup qualifier against Slovakia next month.

However, Rooney has no intention of considering his international future for another two years, even if Allardyce hands the armband to someone else.

He said: "I'll carry on until the World Cup in 2018 and then I might have a decision to make.

"But, for the next two years, captain or not captain, I'll turn up and be available to play if I am wanted."

Rooney added: "I've spoken to him (Allardyce). Not at length about how we're going to play or my role, but he seems very excited about the job and he'll have his own way of doing it.

"I don't think it would be fair to expect him to make a decision on the captaincy now.

"So I'll wait and see what he thinks. He'll want to see the group, work with us all and then make his decision."

- PA Sport.

FootballEuro 2016