Roy Hodgson has gone to war with Fabio Capello, accusing his England predecessor of taking a “cheap” shot at Wayne Rooney.
Capello and Rooney have been embroiled in a public spat since the England striker suggested things had improved significantly now that the national team had a manager the players could understand.
The Italian never mastered English but he responded by saying Rooney does not speak English either and then suggested, after seeing the striker perform so poorly in this tournament, that he only plays well for Manchester United because ‘Scottish’ is the one language he understands.
“I think Rooney only understands Scottish,” said Capello on Italian TV. “That’s because he only plays well in Manchester, where Sir Alex Ferguson speaks Scottish.”
On Wednesday, Hodgson responded on behalf of his star player on talkSPORT.
“Capello is entitled to his opinions, I suppose, but I always think it’s a bit cheap to kid on a player who was so anxious to do well,” he said.
Hodgson went on to defend Rooney against the accusation that he had fitness issues at this tournament.
“His (Rooney’s) attitude was magnificent,” he said. “He was putting in extra work because he was concerned he was behind the others, having missed the first two games through suspension.
“His desire to do well was enormous and we were trying to put the brakes on. In the final game he, along with one or two other players, didn’t play to the level he can, but that’s what football is about.
“If every player was a robot and played at the same level in every game then football would be very simple and we wouldn’t need coaches.”
Hodgson also defended his team’s performance against Italy.
“There will always be recriminations if you don’t get as far as you’d like and achieve what you want to,” he said. “There was no surrender. It was a great effort and I feel very proud of what the players did for me on the pitch. They couldn’t have done much more. The players’ focus and the effort couldn’t have been better. Maybe it (the quarter-final) was a bridge too far. We ran out of legs a bit in the final part and didn’t keep the ball as well as we should have, but it was a valiant effort to take the game to penalties.”
Like his predecessors, Hodgson would also like to see a winter break introduced into English football to reduce such player fatigue at major tournaments.
“I think it helps everyone in football,” he said. “I’ve got to say I’ve always been in favour of it. There’s no question that now I’m the national team manager I’m suddenly campaigning for a winter break.” – Daily Mail