England changes ‘stunned’ FA; Rooney angry

Matt Stead

Roy Hodgson ‘stunned’ the Football Association by making six changes for England in their game against Slovakia, according to reports.

England headed into their final game in Group B of Euro 2016 top with four points, with Wales, who faced Russia, in second on three.

But Hodgson made six changes to the line-up which started both the 1-1 draw with Russia and the 2-1 win over Wales, with the replacements struggling to impress.

England failed to breach a tough Slovakia defence, eventually labouring to a 0-0 stalemate, and placing them in the more difficult half of the draw. They could face hosts France in the quarter-finals.

According to both The Sun and The Guardian, senior members of the FA hold Hodgson accountable for the disappointment.

Daniel Taylor of The Guardian writes that ‘senior figures’ are now ‘questioning whether he has made a serious error of judgement that could jeopardise the team’s progress’. He adds that it could also have potential ‘repercussions for his future as manager’, and that captain Wayne Rooney was ‘aggrieved’ at being benched.

‘His employers are distinctly unimpressed by the risk-taking that finished with England losing their place at the top of Group B and forfeiting the chance to play one of the third-placed finishers in the first knockout round,’ Taylor writes.

‘Wayne Rooney is also understood to be aggrieved at Hodgson’s decision to leave him out, and at the calculated gamble of breaking up the side that played so impressively in the second half of the 2-1 win against Wales. Rooney had expected to play and Hodgson’s decision to rest his captain is one of the issues that has troubled the people who will decide at the end of the tournament whether England’s manager warrants a new contract.

‘England’s inability to beat Slovakia has gone down badly with various FA executives because it means Wales will have, in theory, the easier game as group winners while Hodgson’s team will face the Group F runners-up, possibly Portugal, in Nice on Monday.

‘England have also been left with the daunting prospect of meeting France in the quarter-finals. Behind the scenes there is a firm belief that they did not have to make life so difficult for themselves – and that Hodgson went too far in giving half a dozen players their first starts of the tournament.’

Charlie Wyett and Neil Ashton team up in The Sun to tell us that FA chiefs were ‘stunned’ by what they perceive as ‘unnecessary changes’ from the manager. They also reveal that Hodgson will make another five changes for England’s last-16 tie.