England v Costa Rica World Cup 2014: Wayne Rooney puts weight behind Roy Hodgson to lead England forward

Striker who looks set to become national captain after Gerrard steps aside says the current manager has plans to build a successful team

Rio de Janiero

It is 79 days until England run out to face Switzerland in Basle in the first of their Euro 2016 qualifiers. Just 48 hours after their elimination from the World Cup finals it feels a long way off, but the pace at which the focus of football changes means that it will be upon us before long and with all the attendant examination of the team’s credentials, post-World Cup 2014.

In Switzerland, Roy Hodgson is revered. It is 20 years since he took their national team to a World Cup finals and did considerably better than he has done this time around. They drew with the hosts the United States in the first game, beat Romania and lost to Colombia, easing out the US for second place in the group and qualifying for the next round. They were beaten 3-0 by Spain but no matter, they had already outperformed expectations.

In Basle it will be the locals who will welcome Hodgson. The travelling England fans will have reason to be a lot more circumspect, especially facing a side who have shown some flair at times in the competition thus far, notwithstanding the 5-2 defeat by France on Friday night. Already the Football Association will be looking forward to the friendly match against Norway in September as a barometer for attitudes towards their manager.

Into the breach yesterday stepped Wayne Rooney with as fulsome a defence of the England manager as you are likely to get from a player who rarely tends towards the effusive. Hodgson and Steven Gerrard will have their say today at England’s soon-to-be-dismantled £80,000 Vauxhall-sponsored media centre. Rooney spelled it out quite bluntly. He said Hodgson has changed the way England played, for the better.

 

 “We have to start well in the qualifiers because we want to be in the next tournament,” Rooney said. “The fans will see some exciting football, but we have to turn that exciting football into results. That’s the plan, that’s the aim. Roy has moved us forward in my eyes since the previous tournament. I know we haven’t progressed [into the second round], but he’s moved us forward. It’s tough to say that or believe that now, but I’ve been in this squad for over 10 years now and that’s being truthful and honest.”

A cynic might argue that Rooney is bound to say that. He is the main candidate to succeed Gerrard as captain, who is likely to announce his international retirement today, to come into effect after the Costa Rica game on Tuesday. But Rooney has never been a politician in that regard. When he does speak he says what is on his mind because his status as a star for club and country permits him to do so.

Read more: What next for Hodgson's failed squad?
FA stands by Hodgson - the only tactic it hasn't tried yet
A sense of loss pains Gerrard

Certainly, Rooney seems to hold no lingering bitterness about being shoved out to the left against Italy – in fairness, he has not complained about it once. He even managed a joke yesterday. Asked what side he would now like to see win the tournament, Rooney shot back “Holland”. It took a heartbeat for us to get the joke, as nicely subtle as one of his outside-of-the-foot passes.

That aside, it was not really the day for brave proclamations about the future. We have had enough of those in the last few weeks. Instead Rooney just offered a simple assurance that he would continue playing for as long as he could and that he wanted to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s England goalscoring record of 49, now that he is within nine goals of it.

On the future of the squad, Rooney said that it was a good crop of young players and also that, unlike his own emergence a decade ago, there was a group of them rather than just one. He and Joe Hart made all the usual noises about their being a steady supply of young English players although the statistics do not really back that up. Greg Dyke’s recent commission report showed that the English talent pool is less than half that which Germany, France and Spain have to pick from.

“Roy has brought a lot of youth and excitement into the team,” Rooney said. “It hasn’t worked out for us in this tournament, but he’s certainly got his plans in place for the next two years, and we’ll try and execute those plans.

 “As a country, we’ve seen how well a lot of the young lads have done. We were asking for them to play. They’ve been picked, deservedly so. It’s a learning curve for us all. If we can learn this quickly, we can improve on this and we’ll do better in the next tournament. Roy is a fantastic manager and fantastic person in my eyes, and he’s the right man to take us forward.”

Greg Dyke’s recent commission report showed that the English talent pool is less than half that which Germany, France and Spain have to pick from Greg Dyke’s recent commission report showed that the English talent pool is less than half that which Germany, France and Spain have to pick from The talk of “plans in place” made it sound as if Hodgson has sat  Rooney down and talked him through his intentions for the next two years. Perhaps he has promised him the captaincy too, although neither would talk about the end of Gerrard’s England career until the man himself announces it. It felt similar to the alliance that David Moyes struck with  Rooney at Manchester United. Hodgson will hope that the comparisons end there.

Asked the simple question as to why England had lost to two opponents whom Costa Rica, ranked 18 places below them had beaten, Hart conceded that he was stumped. “They’ve been tough games for Costa Rica and they’ve come out the right side. We’ve had two tough games and come out the wrong side. It’s a simple question but a tough one to answer,” he explained.

As ever with England, the big questions are the impossible ones to answer. But on they go to Euro 2016 qualifying – via Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday. Hodgson battles on, and with Rooney at his side.

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing