Departing England manager Roy Hodgson claimed “I don’t really know what I’m doing here” as he picked over the bones of England’s shambolic Euro 2016 exit in front of the media on Tuesday.
Hodgson led England to a perfect qualifying record of 10 wins from 10 on the road to Euro 2016, but tactical indecision and woeful form from key players resulted in a solitary win from four games in France – culminating in Monday’s humiliating 2-1 loss to minnows Iceland, a game they led through a second-minute penalty from captain Wayne Rooney.
Manchester United star Rooney has released a statement to deny the players lost faith in Hodgson after he made wholesale changes to the XI for a concluding Group B 0-0 draw with Slovakia that handed Wales top spot and condemned England to their fateful night in Nice.
Hodgson resigned via a brief statement in the aftermath of the match and was initially not scheduled to appear alongside FA chief executive Martin Glenn at media conference in Chantilly, but had a change of heart as he did not want to be accused of running away scrutiny.
“I don’t really know why I’m here,” he began. “I thought my statement last night was sufficient. I am no longer the England manager, my time has been and gone.
“But I was told it was important by everyone that I appear. Everyone is still smarting from our performance.
“I suppose someone has to stand and take the slings and arrows that come with it. My emotions are the obvious ones.
“I’m really disappointed. I didn’t see the defeat coming. Nothing in the first three games gave me the indication that we would play as poorly as we did last night, and we did.”
Glenn will head up a three-man team alongside FA technical director Dan Ashworth and fellow board member and former Manchester United chief executive David Gill in the search for Hodgson’s successor, stating that: “We will are looking of the best person, not the best Englishman.”
Hodgson, who claimed full responsibility for the Three Lions’ latest abject failure, was concerned that his presence at the briefing would merely “fan the flames” around an England side he maintains showed encouraging signs in France and can perform successfully in the future.
“I think in the three [group] games we played, we didn’t take out chances well enough, we weren’t ruthless enough in front of goal,” he said.
“Apart from that I thought box-to-box there was some really good play, some really good signs and signs which I would think Martin can take forward with this England team.
“But it’s results that count and results you get judged on. We didn’t play well last night. I take full responsibility for that. I’m not longer a part of it.
“There’s been lots of criticisms during the tournament – why changes, why is Harry Kane talking corner kicks? All of those type of things.
“I’ve answered those questions. You’ve got your opinions on that. You either like the answers or you don’t and that’s entirely up to you.
“I have no complaints about the press and the way I’ve been treated. I do understand that there will be fierce criticism of England for leaving a tournament at this early stage and not living up to the expectations and the hopes that we engendered, with some good performances before the tournament and in the early matches.
“But it’s a fact of life, one particularly bad game has cause a lot go damage to me personally, to the team and to the team going forward. They now have a major bridge to repair. If they’d played better last night, maybe it would not have needed repairing.”