Euro 2016: England coach Roy Hodgson explains why Wayne Rooney was substituted against Russia
Rooney was one of England's best players on the pitch and controlled the game well before he was substituted
England boss Roy Hodgson has come out and defended his decision to substitute Wayne Rooney in the 1-1 draw against Russia on Saturday night. His side were leading 1-0 thanks to an Eric Dier free-kick when the Manchester United forward was substituted with 12 minutes to go.
They almost managed to create history by winning their first group game at an international tournament for the first time ever when they were 1-0 up against Russia. Unfortunately for the Three Lions, Vasili Berezutski had the last say with a goal late in stoppage time to share the points.
Rooney was playing in a midfield role behind Harry Kane and was one of their best players on the pitch, creating goalscoring opportunities and controlling the game against a feeble Russian side that did not exactly impress. However, Rooney was hooked off in the 78th minute as Hodgson brought on Jack Wilshere to see out the game.
The decision was met with ire from the fans, particularly in hindsight, as England lost possession and saw Russia equalise when a cross was headed goalward by Berezutski. Fans were also frustrated with Hodgson’s decision to not bring on Jamie Vardy when Raheem Sterling was ineffective on the left for the team in white.
Rooney was tiring: Hodgson
“I thought he [Rooney] had a good game, but was tiring,” Hodgson explained. “Quite a lot of players out there were tiring because, although it wasn’t baking hot, there was quite a humid atmosphere which saps the strength of the players.
“We just thought, with the control we had in the game and [Jack] Wilshere on the bench, we could have the luxury of taking Wayne off the field and that Jack would do a similar job. I think that’s exactly what happened.
“Always afterwards you can look and think ‘Could we have used more subs? Could we have done a bit more?’ But we didn't honestly believe we were in great difficulties during that time and we thought we'd see the game out 1-0.”
Hodgson also explained why he brought on James Milner to replace Sterling instead of Vardy.
“If anything, we replaced Raheem Sterling, who had worked very hard, with James Milner with a view perhaps to seeing the game out, but were unlucky to concede the late goal.”
“To say we are bitterly disappointed would be an understatement,” he continued. “To get that close to a victory, which I believe would have been a deserved victory, and then to lose it with one minute of injury time remaining is a tough pill to swallow.”