London (AFP) – Wayne Rooney has blamed England’s Euro 2016 humiliation on Roy Hodgson’s unsuccessful selection gamble.
Hodgson made six changes for England’s final group match against Slovakia and the subsequent goalless draw cost England first place in their group.
England captain Rooney was one of those rested by Hodgson and the Manchester United forward says the loss of momentum caused by Hodgson’s decision was instrumental in the team’s stunning last 16 defeat against 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 on Monday.
“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 insists 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.”
Sam Allardyce has replaced Hodgson as England boss and he has so far refused to confirm if Rooney will remain as national team captain.
Allardyce has said he will reveal his decision when the squad meet up for their World Cup qualifier against Slovakia in September.
But Rooney is adamant he will continue playing for England for at least two more years whether he is captain or not.
“I’ll carry on until the World Cup in 2018 and then I might have a decision to make,” he said.
“But for the next two years, captain or not captain, I’ll turn up and be available to play if I am wanted.
“I’ve spoken to him. 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.”