Marcus Rashford has questioned the approach to training of former England manager Roy Hodgson – insisting it “doesn’t take a genius” to see how much better the team is under Gareth Southgate.
The 25-year-old is playing in his fourth major tournament at the World Cup in Qatar and scored off the bench in England’s opening Group B win over Iran.
He replaced Bukayo Saka in Friday’s fixture against the United States but could not help end a stalemate as the nations drew 0-0 at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Rashford made his senior tournament debut back at Euro 2016 after Hodgson selected the then-teenager following his breakthrough into the Manchester United team.
However, the forward pinpointed a change in the level of training from the Hodgson regime as one of the reasons England have progressed.
“Training has been good for the lads that haven’t been getting as many minutes (in Qatar),” he said.
“But I feel like, for this squad, it has never really been an issue, especially since Gareth’s been managing.
“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.
“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.
“Obviously 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 that 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.”
A shock round of 16 defeat to Iceland sent Hodgson’s side home but since then, Southgate has instigated a change in momentum as England reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, finished third in the inaugural Nations League finals and lost on penalties to Italy in the Euro 2020 final last year.
“I don’t think it takes a genius to see that we’ve improved since since 2016,” he said.
“For me, it feels like a completely different team. We’ve come on so much and we’ve learned a lot about ourselves along the way, so I feel that we’re a really strong team that has the capabilities to go on win against any team that we play against.
“We don’t we don’t fear anybody. We believe in our own qualities. We believe in how we can effect the the outcomes of football games and we stick by each other in tough moments and in the 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 percent.
“We’ve shown progression. I can obviously only speak on the time that I’ve been here. From 2016 you look at that performance against Iceland and we got knocked out of the Euros and it’s a million miles off – you can’t even compare the two situations and for me, you can’t compare the feeling around the camp.”
Rashford was one of three players to miss from the spot in the defeat to Italy last summer, with the United forward – as well as Saka and Jadon Sancho – racially abused in the aftermath.
“Racism – it’s not good to go through it as an individual, but it’s not good to see anybody go through it,” added Rashford.
“It’s more just disappointment. You’re disappointed at the fact that people have views like that.
“The main reason is because you don’t have those views about anybody else regardless of their race or religion. It’s more the disappointment that people are thinking those things, never mind saying them.”