England captain Wayne Rooney insists Roy Hodgson commanded “absolute faith” from the dressing room, denying reports that senior players were unhappy with his decisions at Euro 2016.
Less than 24 hours after England were ousted from the European Championships by Iceland, a result and a performance that proved an embarrassment for all involved and the end of the road for Hodgson, stories emerged about splits in the camp.
There were suggestions that senior members of the squad were dissatisfied by some of Hodgson’s tactical decisions and selection calls, particularly the recall of Raheem Sterling for the Iceland match, but Rooney acted quickly to dismiss them.
In a statement, the England skipper said: “In response to recent media reports, I’d like to say that is completely untrue.
“On behalf of the players, we completely supported the England manager, but we understand his reasons for stepping down.
“We had absolute faith in the build-up and throughout the tournament.”
That chimed with Hodgson’s own experiences.
Asked at a downbeat final press conference if he was aware of any dissension in the ranks, the 68-year-old said: “If it was true then they disguised it well from me and coaching staff.
“We had no indication from the players that they were anything but behind what we were doing, behind the game plans that we had. They tried hard to execute them.
“I never go into details. I don’t think that’s a matter for the public. What goes in the dressing room stays in the dressing room, that’s how it’s always been with me and how it will continue to be with me.”
Rooney went on to offer his preference for another homegrown manager.
Two of the country’s last four permanent bosses have been imports – Sweden’s Sven-Goran Eriksson and Italy’s Fabio Capello – and Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn suggested on Tuesday nationality would be no barrier for the right candidate.
When asked for his opinion, Rooney said: “Of course it’s better if he’s English, but he has to be the right man for the job.
“He has to have the credentials and the ability to be able to do the job. Whether he’s English or not we’ll wait and see.
“He needs to put his stamp on the team, whoever he is. I know one thing, if I was the manager coming in I’d be very excited. It’s difficult to see now, but we do have a good squad, an exciting squad.
“Whoever comes in will have a tough job, but they have the players to move us on from where we are and take us one step further.”
Goalkeeper Joe Hart was less committal, insisting he had not yet considered the vacancy.
“I haven’t even given it a thought, the next manager,” he said.
“I’ve been that involved in what we’ve been doing here.
“It’s not an easy job anyway, the England job. We win and lose as a group and we’ve enjoyed working under Roy.
“Obviously none of us wanted these to be the circumstances in which he left his job. It’s difficult.
“I’m sure whoever gets the job will deserve it but, living in the now, and trying to deal with what’s gone on, we’re going to have to deal with it as a group – players and coaches, and deal with it as best we can.”
Hart, whose starting spot is coming under question after two high-profile errors in France, has seen England falter on the big stage before and seemed bereft of solutions for the side’s repeated under-achievement.
“It’s tough to say because obviously I’ve been part of some pretty bad campaigns. We’re going to have to switch it up, get better,” said the Manchester City number one.
“It’s difficult to come out and be positive, to say positive things, after what happened.
“Ultimately we failed and we’re going to have to deal with it. The wounds are fresh, that’s for definite.”