Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boss Says There's No Rift with Rooney

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boss Says There's No Rift with Rooney

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Stone

England coach Steve McClaren has rejected reports of a rift with star striker Wayne Rooney.

In the aftermath of Saturday's goalless European Championship qualifier with Israel in Tel Aviv, it has been suggested McClaren had a major dressing room bust-up with Rooney over England's lack of cutting edge.

Having found the net only once in the last five games, England are on their worst scoring run since 1981 and it was said Rooney reacted angrily to McClaren's comments, believing he was getting all the blame.

However, while McClaren refused to divulge the content of discussions that have taken place within the confines of the dressing room, he denied his relationship with the Manchester United striker has taken a nose-dive.

"It is an absolute load of rubbish," said the former Middlesbrough boss. "What happens in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room. I get on well with Wayne."

Feeling the need to correct a few damning assertions, both of England's performance and his ability as a coach, McClaren brought forward his planned pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow's encounter with Andorra.

The former Middlesbrough boss was certainly in feisty mood, flattening further reports of a crack in his coaching partnership with Terry Venables before turning attention back to Saturday's draw in Tel Aviv.

Opinion has been divided over the merits of England's performance at the Ramat Gan Stadium.

Having watched the game again on video, McClaren firmly believes his side performed better than he thought at the time. And he revealed he has taken calls from respected football figures to back up the argument.

"People in football who I respect have phoned me and said the only thing wrong with our performance on Saturday was that we didn't get a goal," he said. "Someone who has watched a lot of international football said it was as good a performance as they have seen over the weekend.

"I know everyone is disappointed and frustrated that we didn't win the game but I look at the bigger picture. We were the ones who dominated, we were the ones who had the attitude to win and we were the only ones who looked like scoring. …

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