Roy Hodgson was amused by the criticism he received for resting Wayne Rooney and several other players in England’s final Euro 2016 group game.
Hodgson was under pressure to leave Rooney out of the team going into the tournament but, following strong performances from the captain in the opening two games, the England boss was criticised for resting the Manchester United star against Slovakia.
The 68-year-old does not regret the decision to make six alterations, pointing to the changes to the side that ended against Wales, and the criticism about starting Rooney on the bench has particularly stuck in his craw.
“That is amusing to me because of all the players that I’ve actually had to stand up and put my neck on the line and defend,” Hodgson bristled.
“I’ve had to stick my chin out say ‘I don’t care what anyone else thinks Wayne Rooney is going to the Euros, Wayne Rooney is our captain and Wayne Rooney going to play’.
“And now we didn’t score against Slovakia despite 29 shots and 15 corners and God knows what else because Wayne Rooney didn’t play more than 30 minutes.
“Well, excuse me, I find it hard to go along with that line of argument, that I should now regret the fact that I didn’t start with Rooney or that I didn’t start with (Harry) Kane and (Raheem) Sterling, who if I had started with them and lost the game I would have been criticised.
“The criticism is very simple. At the end of the game you can play well or you can play badly.
“We won all our three preparation games. I don’t think we played particularly well in any of the three, but we won them, so everyone was hunky dory and fine.
“Here, in my opinion, we’ve played better. I think it bodes well for the future, what we’re doing here.
“But we haven’t won, so therefore results are bad so therefore we are bad. That’s life. I accept it.
“I’m not trying to gloss over that in any way. But I can’t be as facile as to say: ‘Yeah, you’re right, I wish to God now we had played Wayne Rooney’.
“I don’t know if we’d played Wayne Rooney the score would have been any different. It wasn’t when he came on.”