Sven-Goran Eriksson’s parting shot as England coach was a plea to look after Wayne Rooney’s talent.
In his final England news conference, Eriksson said Rooney’s dismissal should not be blamed for England’s World Cup quarter-final exit to Portugal.
Eriksson said: “Wayne Rooney is the golden boy of English football. Don’t kill him because you will need him. He’s a fantastic player and he has his temperament, but you can’t hold that against him.”
Rooney has been heavily criticised for stamping on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho. The subsequent red card left his England team-mates to play with 10 men for almost an hour.
Although Rooney’s dismissal severely handicapped England’s World Cup hopes, Eriksson accepted the referee’s decision.
The departing England coach said: “I spoke to Wayne and he said he had no intention to do it. I then spoke to the referee after the game and he told me he was 100% sure it was a red card. The referee told me he had hit the other player and where he was hit, so I couldn’t complain. I don’t think that added to the pressure. The pressure he put on himself was that he missed some of his touches because he hasn’t played for a long while. I told him every day ‘don’t blame yourself, that is normal.’ I told him he was going to score the winner in the World Cup final but unfortunately, we’re not there.”
As he departed his five-and-a-half year reign, Eriksson shouldered some of the blame for England‘s exit.
He said: “If you’re manager you’re always responsible for the good times and the bad times. Every time you don’t win a game you think if you could have done it another way. I don’t know how I will be judged. I would wish to be judged as an honest man who tried to do his best. I have never understood it when people talk about my salary. There are others earning more than me and why shouldn’t an international manager be as well paid as a club manager? If you want people in the future taking this job for the honour, you will have difficulties getting the right man.”
Eriksson said he was “immensely proud” to be England manager and “never regretted” taking the job despite the revelations of his private life.
“I never liked the intrusion into my personal life, but in the end you have to say ‘who cares?’ If you’re in this job you have to accept it and not get knocked down by it. That’s the biggest danger for whoever has this job.”
Eriksson admitted he is keen to stay in football and will soon be looking for another job.
He said: “I’m going on holiday, perhaps for a couple of weeks, perhaps for a year, I don’t know. I didn’t have any intention during the World Cup to talk to anyone else, but tomorrow I can start to do that.”