Wayne Rooney says England need to be more 'nasty' to compete at top
JUN 22, 2014 5:08a ET
England striker Wayne Rooney believes the players have to become more cynical to compete at the top level.
The 28-year-old reckons the squad have suffered somewhat in the World Cup from refusing to indulge in gamesmanship.
Tuesday's clash with Costa Rica, who have already qualified for the last 16, is a dead rubber with the England players left to reflect on what may have been.
"You look at teams who have won the tournament over previous years and you can see that nastiness in them," said the Manchester United forward.
"I think we have to get that in us. As a team maybe we are too honest, I feel."
And Rooney concedes England have to start controlling the tempo of games to stamp some authority against opposing teams.
"You see a lot of the great teams, international and club teams, they have that," Rooney said. "The time to slow the game down a bit or control the game a bit more.
"But this is football. You have to take your chances. If we'd taken as least one of them, we'd have gone on and won the games. That's what disappointing.
"It's small margins, but those small things can amount to a big thing in terms of staying in the competition or going out.
"We want to make history and make this country winners again. That is what we worked hard to do, but it didn't happen. You never know - in the next few years it could do.
"We have to try to move on. It's difficult for us but more for the fans. It's been 48 years. It's tough because we've let them down. We want to give them something to cheer about for the future."
Rooney has urged his team-mates to finish their World Cup on a high and restore some lost pride when they face Costa Rica on Tuesday.
"We are obviously really hurting and disappointed to be out of the tournament. We need to pick ourselves up for this game on Tuesday and go out fighting and showing our pride," he said.
"It's not a great feeling to go out of a tournament after two games so we have to try and restore some of our pride."
Rooney scored his first World Cup goal in the 2-1 defeat to Uruguay on Thursday but he insists it means nothing in the context of failure for the team as a whole.
"I think me not scoring has been on a lot of other people's minds more than it has my own," he added.
"I scored a goal but we lost a game and are out of the tournament.
"This team is much bigger than Wayne Rooney is. It is not about me scoring, it is about us doing the right things.
"We were positive but we lost the two games. We have to assess that and try and improve. I am sure we will."
Rooney also rejected the idea that failure to advance to the knockout stages of the competition would affect his desire to play for his country in the future.
"I am really proud to play for my country," he said. "I never want to pull out of squads, I always turn up and play for England when I am called upon.
"I have no desire whatsoever to stop doing that unless I am told to. I will play for England until I am not selected."
England goalkeeper Joe Hart has already come to the defence of under-fire manager Roy Hodgson and he was keen to reiterate his support ahead of the Costa Rica game.
"We have got to stick together, we have come to this as a group," he said. "We were looking to succeed as a group but we haven't.
"We prepared as best we could and just haven't performed on the field.
"It's hard to analyse because we have done some good things in this World Cup but we haven't won the games.
"It's really hard to take and we are frustrated, it's an empty feeling right now but we have another game to restore pride and try and get something out of this trip.
"We owe it to the amazing fans who have travelled to come and support us. We also owe it to ourselves as proud Englishmen.
"We are here to do a job, we have not done that, but we've got one more game to go. Whenever you play, you play to win."
Rooney was also keen to defend Hodgson and praised him for improving the England team during his tenure.
"Make no doubt about it, Roy is the man to take us forward. We appreciate what he has done for us," he added.
"He has, in my opinion, changed the way we have played over the last couple of years and I know the results have been disappointing in the last two games, but as a team we can feel we are getting better.
"I feel with the young lads in the squad, this will help them and hopefully in the future this will make us a better team."