World Cup 2022: Marcus Rashford defends England’s Gareth Southgate | Football

Marcus Rashford has leapt to the defence of his manager Gareth Southgate (Picture: Getty Images)

Marcus Rashford has taken aim at the reign of previous manager Roy Hodgson and insisted it ‘doesn’t take a genius’ to see how Gareth Southgate has transformed England.

Rashford yesterday leapt to the defence of his manager following criticism of Southgate’s tactics after the drab goalless draw with the USA.

He could start against Wales tomorrow after two impressive cameos as a substitute at the World Cup so far.

He made his Three Lions debut under Hodgson (below) in 2016, going on to play at Euro 2016 as an 18-year-old as England crashed out in embarrassing style to Iceland in the last 16.

This World Cup is Rashford’s fourth major tournament for his country and he acknowledged the part Southgate’s methods have played in taking England from laughing stock to trophy hunters.

‘I feel like, for this squad, it has never really been an issue, especially since Gareth’s been managing,’ said the forward.

‘Maybe before it was a little bit of an issue in terms of quality of training and people’s dedication to training but since he’s been manager of England, it’s been good.

Rashford thinks there’s been a clear improvement under Gareth Southgate (Picture: PA)

‘It’s been intense, it’s been challenging and I feel like everyone, me included, is ready to do their bit when they come onto the pitch if they get an opportunity.

‘I was only there for a short period of time before but the standard of training wasn’t as high.

‘For players, it is black and white: if you are not training well, you can’t expect to play well, you can’t expect to go into games and just win because you are better players than the other team.

‘There’s obviously been a clear change and a clear improvement. We’ve obviously done much better in the major tournaments but even in the games we’ve played throughout the year with England, we’ve played better, we’ve had better results.

‘It is not often I come away with England and feel like we’re going to lose games. I think as a collective, we’re very strong. The togetherness is really high and it is a big feature that Gareth puts emphasis on.’

Rashford believes England have come a long way since those dark days in France and do not even vaguely resemble how they were six years ago.

Roy Hodgson gave Rashford his first start for England (Picture:Getty Images)

‘I don’t think it takes a genius to see that we’ve improved since 2016,’ he added, with Southgate tipped to make several changes for tomorrow’s Group B finale.

‘It feels like a completely different team. We’ve come on so much and learned a lot about ourselves along the way, so I feel we’re a really strong team that has the capabilities to win against any team. We stick by each other in tough moments and in good moments as well.

‘So it’s up to us to go and prove that we have what it takes to win it, but do I believe that we do? Yes, 100 per cent.

‘We’ve shown progression. From 2016 you look at that performance against Iceland and it’s a million miles off – you can’t compare the feeling around the camp.’

Rashford acknowledged England were below par against the US and, asked about the booing at the final whistle, he said: ‘Not a nice feeling but you don’t need fans to boo us to know we’ve not played as well as we could have. You can’t always play your best football and you have to learn to win games when you’re not playing well

‘It’s unrealistic to think you’re going to play your best every single game.’

MORE : Three big questions for England ahead of Wales World Cup clash

MORE : Wayne Rooney names the England team Gareth Southgate should pick against Wales and rates Three Lions’ World Cup chances

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