CHANTILLY, France (Reuters) – Outgoing England manager Roy Hodgson on Tuesday denied reports that his players questioned his selection decisions before the embarrassing 2-1 defeat by Iceland which sent the team out of Euro 2016.
At a news conference less than 24 hours after quitting, Hodgson was asked about reports of disharmony in the camp and claims that senior players queried the selection of striker Raheem Sterling against Iceland and the six team changes made before the final group game against Slovakia.
”There was no indication that they weren’t behind us, that they weren’t behind the game plans and trying hard to execute,”
said a visibly tense Hodgson before an Football Association (FA) official stepped in to point out that they had also been denied by England’s captain Wayne Rooney.
Rooney released a statement to the Press Association which 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.”
The claims had been reported by British broadcaster Sky Sports who said they had come from unidentified sources inside the England camp.
Hodgson, whose selections and tactics were heavily criticised in the British media, said he was feeling ”fragile” after Monday’s defeat, which some critics said was the worst in English football history.
”I don’t really know what I’m doing here but I was told it’s important for me to appear as everyone is still smarting,” said Hodgson, who apologised to England supporters for the result.
”My emotions are obvious. I was really disappointed and I didn’t see the defeat coming. If you don’t turn up and play to your abilities, you can be beaten. I’m very fragile today as you can understand.”
But he predicted that England’s players would bounce back and show they could perform at an international tournament.
”I’m sure that these players will get better and better. One day I think we will do well and hopefully that can happen in 2018 (at the next World Cup).”
Hodgson was accompanied by Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn who said a review would now be conducted into why England were so ”brittle” at tournaments.
”When it comes to the business end of the tournament we’ve come up short for many years,” he said. “We’re not denying that our perennial problem is that England seem brittle at the business end of the season.”
Glenn said he would join FA’s technical director Dan Ashworth and David Gill, FA vice-chairman, in a search to find a new manager. He said they were looking for ”the best person for the job,” and did not rule out appointing a foreign manager.
”We are looking for the best person, not necessarily the best Englishman,” he said.
(Reporting by Neil Robinson. Editing by Adrian Warner.)