Roy Hodgson admitted yesterday that England had expected too much of Wayne Rooney at Euro 2012 and that in order for the team to succeed in the future they would need their most famous name to perform better at tournaments.
In response to a question about whether too much burden of hope had been placed on the shoulders of a player suspended for the first two games of the tournament, Hodgson said that the success of all teams depended to a great degree on whether their best players performed. He conceded that even Rooney would admit that he "didn't have his best game" in the 0-0 quarter-final draw with Italy that culminated in a 4-2 defeat on penalties.
Rooney had originally been scheduled by the Football Association to speak to the media yesterday before the squad flight back to London from Krakow this afternoon but that idea was later dropped. When Hodgson was asked whether England had built up Rooney's return before the third group game against Ukraine last Tuesday, Steven Gerrard, alongside him, nodded his assent to the proposition.
Hodgson said: "Well we do, but so do other teams, don't they? I think had [Andrea] Pirlo played poorly, it might have affected the Italians' performance. I think in all top international teams, you're looking at one, two, possibly three individuals that everyone recognises as being exceptional world-class talents and when you get to the big stage, you're hoping those players perform and show they're world-class talents – the Maradonas that win Argentina a World Cup with his performance."
Earlier Hodgson had said that, despite Rooney's struggles to make an impression on the game, the FA was confident that his fitness was right. "His running stats in the training sessions and the games were actually very good," the England manager said. "But of course I think we put a lot of expectations on him. When he missed the first two games we were all believing that what we need to do now [is to] get to the third game and Wayne Rooney will win us the championships. That maybe was too much to ask of him.
"He certainly tried very hard, but he didn't have his best game [against Italy]. I think he would admit that. That might be down to a number of factors, but I don't think that fitness itself was a particular factor."
On the question of players retiring from England, Hodgson said that Ashley Cole and John Terry, both 31, had both told him that they were eager to stay on as international players, although circumstances beyond Terry's control may change his situation. For the time being, Hodgson said that he had been given assurances by both players they would continue. Cole, who has 98 caps now, has long said that he would not retire from England as long as he is playing.
Hodgson said: "I'd certainly be very disappointed if they [Terry and Cole] weren't [available.] They've given me every reason to believe they're very anxious to continue. They were two of the real success stories of the tournament. The whole of the back four and the goalkeeper – they've all done extremely well.
"John Terry, I think has been excellent throughout, as has Ashley, as has Steven. So personally I've not even thought of asking the question, 'Will you continue?' Because they would have to knock me over with a feather if they came to me and said 'I'm not.' Maybe you know something I don't know – so perhaps I should ask."
Gerrard, 32, intimated that he had been considering his international future before Hodgson's arrival but had changed his mind once he had been given certain assurances by the England manager. "I have loved it [the captaincy], I have loved the responsibility," he said. "I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have tried my best. I gave everything I have got. I gave it my best shot.
"Yes [I will carry on]. I have had a brief chat with the manager. I am available as long as I am wanted at this level. As long as he wants me to carry on, I am there and I am available."
The FA chairman, David Bernstein, declared yesterday that England's glass was "half full" in terms of their performance at Euro 2012 and the manner in which they had emerged from Fabio Capello's departure in February and Hodgson's late appointment.
He said: "There's a great deal of positives coming out of this – the performance of the team, the commitment of the team, the togetherness of the squad. I think Roy has made a real impact very, very quickly, just the sort of thing we thought he'd do."
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