Wayne Rooney has backed Gareth Southgate to stay on as England manager until ‘at least Euro 2024’ regardless of a disappointingly early World Cup exit this winter.
Southgate took England took a first World Cup semi-final in 28 years when the Three Lions finished fourth at the 2018 tournament, while his side then ended a drought for a senior men’s England team that had lasted more than half a century by getting to the Euro 2020 final.
On the face of it, falling at the last eight in Qatar this time around might seem a step back. But Rooney, England’s joint all-time leading goalscorer, insists the nature of the defeat against France in the quarter-finals actually highlighted progress rather than failure.
“The result alone is not a basis for judgment,” Rooney said in his latest column for The Times.
“Another day, England go and win that game,” he added.
“To me, watching on, it felt a huge step in the right direction. England dealt with the pressure of being in a quarter-final against a team of France’s quality and were very unlucky not to get through.
“I listened to some of Gareth’s interviews afterwards and he was spot on when he said that England can now mix it with the biggest boys of international football. They can.
“That is why, for me, Gareth should stay on – until Euro 2024 at the least. The players respect him, the squad is in a great frame of mind and the team is getting better on the pitch and those Euros in Germany are a great opportunity.”
Qualifying for Euro 2024 will begin for England at the very next international break in March, starting with a tough away trip against reigning European champions Italy.