England still hung up on World Cup: Hodgson

England have not yet digested their World Cup disappointment, according to manager Roy Hodgson, who has warned his players against complacency in their forthcoming 2016 European Championship qualifying matches.

England were eliminated in the group phase at the World Cup in Brazil — their worst performance since 1958 — after losing to Italy and Uruguay and drawing 0-0 with Costa Rica.

Hodgson’s youthful side launched their bid to reach Euro 2016 with an impressive 2-0 win at chief Group E rivals Switzerland last month, but he says the scars from the World Cup will take a long time to heal.

Asked if the win in Switzerland meant that England’s World Cup hangover was now over, Hodgson told journalists at Wembley Stadium: “No, I think that’s going to take a much longer time.

“The World Cup was a very bitter and disappointing experience for us. I don’t know that I even want the players to forget it that quickly. I want them to remember the bitter disappointment that they felt.

“But for very small margins, relatively minor details, we could have gone further, and I want them to remember that. I want them to take that with them to 2016, to have a very good tournament and to take it forward to 2018 and 2020.”

Having already won what appears likely to be the most arduous fixture of their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, England seem to have a smooth path to the tournament in France ahead of them.

But prior to Thursday’s home game with perennial whipping boys San Marino, which will be followed by a trip to Estonia on October 12, Hodgson has urged his players not to look too far ahead.

“Complacency would be a big mistake, (thinking) that our opponents don’t merit the same preparation,” said Hodgson, whose side beat San Marino 5-0 and 8-0 during qualifying for the World Cup.

“I don’t care what people are writing, what people are saying. I’ve had a lot of games in 40 years, and I learnt very, very quickly that you don’t say, ‘This is a game we’re going to win, therefore we can take chances, be complacent or not prepare properly.'”

– English players ‘not inferior’ –

England played with a new-look diamond midfield against Switzerland in Basel, where Danny Welbeck scored both their goals.

While Hodgson refused to say if the system would become a permanent fixture, he dismissed the perception that English players have more trouble grasping tactical concepts than some of their European counterparts.

“I’ve worked in Switzerland, worked in Italy and worked in all the Scandinavian countries and it cuts no ice with me, the idea English players have some kind of inferiority,” he said.

The matches against San Marino and Estonia will be the only competitive football that captain Wayne Rooney plays in October as he is currently serving a three-match ban for Manchester United.

Rooney was seen as something of a default choice for the captaincy due to a lack of alternative candidates, but despite his quietly spoken demeanour, Hodgson feels he is growing into the role.

“Everyone knows Wayne is not the sort of person, with his Liverpool accent, who is going to be able to stand up in front of a lecture room of people,” said the former Liverpool manager.

“But he doesn’t need to. All he has to do is make certain the players he is talking to understand where he is coming from.

“The great thing with Wayne, as it was with Steven (Gerrard, Rooney’s predecessor as captain), is the passion that they have for football, for their country, and for their clubs.

“They can transmit that passion to a lot of those younger players. They can get their points across. They won’t do it maybe quite as eloquently as someone like myself could, but that doesn’t matter.”