Roy Hodgson began life as a former England manager by making a reluctant final appearance in front of the media and warning his successor that Euro 2016 humiliation could “damage” the players he leaves behind.
Hodgson read a prepared statement to announce his resignation on Monday night after the embarrassing 2-1 defeat by Iceland, declining to take questions, and was not originally expected to face the media yesterday either.
But he had a late change of heart, sharing a stage with Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn even though he made it clear he had little interest in airing his views.
“I don’t really know what I’m doing here. I think my statement (Monday) night was sufficient,” he said in a terse address.
“I’m no longer England manager, my time has been and gone. But I was told it was important for everybody I appeared.
“I suppose that’s partly because people are still smarting from our poor performance and the defeat, which has seen us leave the tournament.
“I suppose someone has to stand and take the slings and arrows that come with it.
“I maintain I’m unhappy about it because it’s no longer my job.
“As you can understand I’m very fragile. It’s certainly the wrong day for me to be talking about it because the emotions are too raw.”
Hodgson’s appearance was preceded, by a matter of minutes, by a statement from his captain Wayne Rooney, shooting down reports that senior squad members had harboured doubts about the manager’s tactics in France.
Rooney deemed those suggestions “completely untrue” and insisted the dressing room held “absolute faith” in his decisions.
In return, Hodgson spoke positively about the future, arguing that leading England was not the impossible task some believe and that success is still possible.
But he also admitted that the possibility of a scarring effect on the young players who experienced the nightmare in Nice.
Part of the reason he had been so excited about this squad was because they were not tarnished by the sins of the past, yet now they have their own unwanted place in the history books.
“It’s a fact of life, one particularly bad game has caused a lot of damage to me personally, to the team and to the team going forward,” he said.
“They now have a major bridge to repair. If they’d played better (Monday night), maybe it would not have needed repairing.
“But it’s results that count and results you get judged on. I’m sure these players will live up to expectations and get better and better.
“I feel progress will be made and one day we will see an England team do very, very well at a tournament and my hope is it will be in 2018.
“I think this group of players as they mature will show they are worthy of wearing the England shirt.”
Hodgson is willing to formally debrief his four-year reign with his former employers, as they ponder installing a new management team, but will wait to be asked.
“That will depend on the FA,” he said.
“If I can be of any assistance of course I’ll do so. It would be up to them to come to me, because as far as I’m concerned I’m an ex-England manager.
“I can only wish the new England manager the best of luck. I think I’m leaving behind a good group of players.
“As a manager you’re always responsible so it’s not a question of trying to transfer blame to the players.”
Rooney’s statement regarding alleged discontent in the England dresing room said: “In response to recent media reports, I’d like to say that is completely untrue.
“On behalf of the players, we completely supported the England manager, but we understand his reasons for stepping down.
“We had absolute faith in the build-up and throughout the tournament.”
That chimed with Hodgson’s own experiences.
Asked at his downbeat final press conference if he was aware of any dissension in the ranks, the 68-year-old said: “If it was true then they disguised it well from me and coaching staff.
“We had no indication from the players that they were anything but behind what we were doing, behind the game plans that we had.
“They tried hard to execute them.”
Asked what he had said at half-tine and full-tine on Monday, Hodgson insisted: “I never go into details. I don’t think that’s a matter for the public.
“What goes in the dressing room stays in the dressing room; that’s how it’s always been with me and how it will continue to be with me.”
Leading the search for Hodgson’s replacement will be by a panel of three: FA chief executive Martin Glenn, an FA-qualified grass-roots coach and a former non-executive director at Leicester; David Gill, former chief executive at Manchester United who is the FA’s vice-chairman and UK vice-president of FIFA, and former Norwich defender Dan Ashworth, the FA’s technical director.