London (AFP) – Former England assistant coach Gary Neville claims the Football Association let down Wayne Rooney with their handling of the controversy over his late-night behaviour at the national team hotel.
England captain Rooney was pictured looking bleary-eyed and mingling with guests from a wedding reception at the England team hotel after their World Cup qualifier against Scotland last month.
Manchester United forward Rooney apologised to England manager Gareth Southgate and to the FA, but Neville, a former team-mate of the star with club and country, believes the matter should have been dealt with more carefully.
He said FA chief executive Martin Glenn was guilty of a PR disaster when saying an investigation would be launched.
Neville claimed the squad should have been instructed to take collective responsibility, given Rooney was not the only player drinking on the Saturday night between the Scotland and Spain matches.
“My issue is how it was dealt with by the FA and by the team,” Neville said on Sky Sports.
“I’d like to think that when we were there, the idea that Wayne was – I don’t know if he was pushed out to apologise or guided to apologise – to me that would have been a (case of) collective responsibility.
“When you talk about fanning the flames, that’s exactly what the FA did that week. Martin Glenn came out and said he would start an investigation – disaster, that was a disastrous statement. It’s not an investigation, it’s a phone call to say ‘what happened?’.”
Neville pointed to the days of Terry Venables leading England, when the squad, including Neville, swallowed the blame for damage caused on an aeroplane before Euro 96 rather than pin it on any individual.
A similar approach, Neville suggested, could have eased the pressure on Rooney.
“The way it was handled for me was disappointing. From the FA saying there was going to be an investigation – there’s not an investigation, there can’t be, because they were given time to go out, they were given time to have a night off,” he added.
“I was disappointed to see Rooney have to come out and apologise when actually there were other players out on the same night probably doing the same things.”
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