Wayne Rooney believes Sam Allardyce’s departure as England manager was unfortunate but the captain urged his team-mates to show unity and focus for the World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia.
Allardyce left his post by mutual agreement last week after comments he made during a newspaper sting – part of a wider investigation into alleged corruption in English football by the Daily Telegraph.
England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate will step into the breach for the Three Lions’ remaining four matches this year, and Rooney praised the enthusiasm Allardyce brought to the post he held for a mere 67 days.
“I think it’s a shame,” the Manchester United forward told a news conference.
“We could see how excited Sam was for the job. He came in and showed that enthusiasm to the players.
“It’s a shame it’s happened and I’m sure he regrets it but that was a decision for the FA to take and we have to concentrate now on the game.
“Not just myself, as a group of players we need to stick together and concentrate on the football. For the FA, I’m sure it’s been a tough couple of weeks but for the players we’ve been concentrating on club football.
“We have to focus on the games and the training sessions. It’s a new manager in Gareth. It’s a big opportunity for him.
“As a team we need to keep working together and not get involved too much in other issues.”
Like Rooney, Chelsea centre-back Gary Cahill featured in the opening 1-0 win over Slovakia under Allardyce in Group F and he echoed his captain’s sombre tone.
“It’s disappointing and I can only comment on my dealings with the ex-manager,” he said.
“For me, the week that I worked under him I enjoyed it. We got a good result.
“My personal dealings with him were fine and great. Of course it’s a disappointing to lose a manager but we have to move on and prepare for the games that are coming up in the best frame of mind.”
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