by Dom Smith
Marcus Rashford has seemingly criticised former England manager Roy Hodgson for the team’s poor results and lackadaisical training intensity while he was in post.
Rashford — who has eight goals in 19 Manchester United appearances this term — was speaking to the media after England’s flat goalless draw with the United States and as they gear up to face neighbours Wales in Al Rayyan on Tuesday.
Hodgson retired from management earlier this year after Watford’s relegation to the Championship. He was England boss between 2012 and 2016, in which time the national team were knocked out at the Euro 2012 quarter-finals, 2014 World Cup group stage, and Euro 2016 second round in that infamous collapse to Iceland.
Rashford said: “You look at that performance against Iceland when we got knocked out of the Euros and it’s a million miles off where we are now. You can’t even compare the two situations, and you can’t compare the feeling around the camp. The confidence levels are high.Embed from Getty Images
“I don’t think it takes a genius to see how we’ve improved since 2016. It feels like a completely different team. We’ve come on so much and learned a lot about ourselves along the way. We don’t fear anybody. We believe in our own qualities. It’s up to us to go and prove that we have what it takes to win it. Do I believe that we do? Yeah, 100 percent.
“I was only there for a short period of time before [Southgate came in]. But the standard of training wasn’t as high. For players, it’s black and white: if you’re not training well you can’t expect to play well. You have to put the work in and earn the right to win football matches. For me it’s two different sides of a coin. It’s as simple as that.”
When Hodgson resigned in the immediate aftermath of the 2–1 humbling against Iceland at Euro 2016, he was eventually replaced by Sam Allardyce. However, Allardyce was only in the role for 67 days and one match before he was sacked following a successful sting by The Daily Telegraph.
Following Allardyce’s departure, Southgate took over as interim manager, before being given the job full-time. He has since taken England to a World Cup semi-final and a Euros final, and is currently leading his England at their third major tournament.Embed from Getty Images
Asked how Southgate has helped to make England more competitive in big matches and training sessions more intense, Rashford, 25, said: “A lot of it is the atmosphere here. I feel like he’s got a good balance between working hard and having down time and opportunity to relax. He’s always been good at that to be honest, since I’ve worked with him. Even when in the U21s, it was the same. He’s stuck to what he thinks works. He speaks to the players a lot and he tries to get a balance between what he thinks will work well and what the players think will work well. On that side of things, he’s very good.
“For this squad it’s never really been an issue especially since Gareth’s been managing. Maybe before, it was a little bit of an issue, in terms of quality of training and people’s dedication to training. Since he’s been manager of England, it’s been good, it’s been intense, it’s been challenging.
“Gareth’s a very clever person”, added Rashford.
England face Wales in their final group match on Tuesday knowing a draw would see them through to the round of 16 and even a narrow defeat could be enough.