Roy Hodgson does not believe being manager of England is the impossible job and he retains hope that the country will produce a national team to be proud of.
England were humbled by minnows Iceland in the last 16 of Euro 2016 on Monday, losing 2-1 in Nice despite hitting the front with a second-minute penalty from Wayne Rooney.
Hodgson resigned in the aftermath of the match and faced the media in Chantilly on Tuesday – a duty he repeatedly stated he did not see the purpose of – after the England squad climbed aboard their tournament bus for the last time.
His nation’s wait for a major honour will now stretch beyond 50 years, but the 68-year-old maintains there were enough encouraging signs in a tournament when England won one of their four matches to suggest brighter days ahead.
Asked whether he believed he was stepping away from an impossible task, Hodgson replied: “No, I wouldn’t. It’s a difficult job but then all national team jobs for big countries are difficult jobs.
“I think this job is getting easier because I think that more and more young players are coming through who are capable of doing a good job.
“It’s all about results – they didn’t show it last night, I have to agree with you. But I would defy people, really, if they are going to review our performances and say we didn’t show some signs of good football in first three games
“That gave us confidence to believe that we would get through the game with Iceland and go on to the quarter-finals. Last night we didn’t reproduce.”
England’s early exit has brought familiar accusations of over-paid, over-pampered players failing to find the necessary reserves of commitment and application at international level.
Hodgson, who conceded to feeling “very fragile” over his Euro 2016 experience, insisted this was wide of the mark.
“I think this group of players a
s they mature will show they are worthy of wearing the England shirt,” he said – fan chants in Nice having suggested precisely the opposite.
“They will have more success than they’ve had in this tournament. I don’t think it’s about money or where they play – we saw that last night – it’s always 11 men versus 11 men and sometimes the 11 men you’re hoping play the best game don’t.”
Hodgson added: “I think they are hurting but players are more resilient than coaches. We take the whole responsibility on our shoulders
“They always have another game or training session to look forward to. They can sometimes bounce back quicker than we can.
“But I would be disappointed if people are saying they did not play well last night because they didn’t care. I thought that they didn’t play well because sometimes that happens in football.”
Hodgson also joined captain Rooney in rejecting claims that the squad lost faith in his methods after the controversial decision to make six changes to the starting XI that faced Slovakia in a concluding 0-0 Group B draw.
“If it was true then they disguised it well from me and the coaching staff,” he said.
“We had no indication from the players that they were anything but behind what we were doing, behind the game plans that we had. They tried hard to execute them.”