LONDON (Reuters) - England coach Roy Hodgson has warned his players to sacrifice their egos for the good of the team at the World Cup lest they end up like the strife-torn France side of the 2010 finals.
France endured a dismal World Cup at South Africa, crashing out of the group stage after the expulsion of forward Nicolas Anelka from the squad following a heated clash with then-coach Raymond Domenech and a subsequent players’ revolt.
Hodgson said he would be quick to knock any threats to team harmony on the head in Brazil where England will play Group D rivals Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica when the tournament kicks off next month.
“One thing is for certain: there’s no chance for any team in the World Cup if they’re not in it together,” he told British media.
”We’ve seen that in the past, examples where teams who were not together, like France in the last one where all the problems were coming out.
”If you want to win any tournament, if you want to win a league for that matter, you’d better make certain that you as a team are all together. That you’re all singing off the same hymn sheet, that you all have the same aspirations and that you’re all prepared to make sacrifices for each other.
”... The thing you can control is your teamwork, making sure you choose a group of players who are prepared to work as a team, that you deal with any problems that come up from individuals that are trying to eat away at the fabric of your team and maybe destroy your teamwork.
”I’ve always been very clear on that. I don’t have any hesitation. When you stand in front of a group of players for the first time and say: ‘Listen, the only way we’re going to win this is by being a team’, you’ll find 20 of them will say: ‘Yeah, yeah, you’re right’.
”But then, if they don’t start doing it as a team in the course of the tournament, you’re quite entitled to say: ‘You didn’t ... say anything about it before, you were the first to say you agreed, and now you’re out of the team it’s a big problem, it’s not about the team any more, it’s all about you.’
“I’ve never been afraid to say those things. But luckily I’ve not had to say it too often.”
Hodgson said he had been “lucky” in having a group of senior players that set the right tone for the more youthful members of his squad, singling out captain Steven Gerrard for praise.
”Gerrard has turned out to be such a superb captain, a very good catalyst for the others, someone they all look up to as a player but also as a person, somebody who has very much the right attitude.
“And when he’s not been available, then (vice captain) Frank Lampard has done a very similar job, and after that you’d count Wayne Rooney as a young senior: my senior players have been very good in demanding: ‘This is the mood we want, this is the type of camp we want.'”
Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly