Oct 10, 2016

    Criticism of Rooney is unfair: Southgate


    ENGLAND'S interim manager Gareth Southgate expressed bewilderment after captain Wayne Rooney was booed by his own supporters during his side's 2-0 win over Malta.

    His country's record goal-scorer and most-capped outfield player played in a midfield holding role and produced a low-key display as England ground out a laboured win.

    There was a smattering of boos when his name was read out prior to kick-off and again after he hoisted a shot over the crossbar late in the game.

    "I don't understand it," said Southgate. "That seems to be the landscape. I've no idea how that's expected to help.

    "I presented him with a cap in the week for being the record (outfield) cap-holder with his country. It's fascinating to get an insight into his world over the last 10 days.

    "Every debate seems to focus on him. The onus on him is enormous. The criticism of him is, at times, unfair.

    "He ploughs on and plays with pride and captains his country with pride."

    Southgate pointed out that a number of England stalwarts had in recent times taken stick from frustrated fans.

    "I always look back to the (John) Terrys, the (Frank) Lampards, the Ashley Coles.

    "In their time with England, they took an enormous amount of criticism," he said.

    "And yet when you look at the number of caps they got, they were the guys that kept turning out and really putting themselves on the line.

    "Some other players have not put themselves forward and withdrawn from squads when the going has got tough.

    "Those guys desperately wanted to play for England again and again and again and put their neck on the block.

    "I think Wayne falls into that category."