Gareth Southgate knows the negativity surrounding him is “not healthy” for the team and urged England fans to vent any frustration with him rather than the players ahead of Germany’s World Cup finals bidding farewell on Monday.
England deserted their performances just at the wrong time, with Southgate’s side unbeaten in five games, having also struggled with relegation from the Nations League before a game-sparing after Friday’s 1-0 loss in Italy.
The severely weakened president referred to his years of experience as he was asked if he doubted himself after the recent criticism.
Southgate replied: “I’m lucky now that I’m in my fifties unfortunately, I’ve played football for 30 years and been in 12 tournaments more or less, working with those seasons, exploring – that would be for me. I’m seventh as a player or coach, so I saw almost everything.
“The cycle of war with the media, love – we’re somewhere in the middle of that, it’s an experience that I knew at some point would likely come with this job, so I have to accept that.”
Germany are the visitors to Wembley on Monday night as England seek to avoid the poor performance and results that have turned the tide on Southgate.
He was taunted and chants of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ as England lost 4-0 to Hungary in June and was booed by traveling fans again on Friday.
“Look, I’m the manager,” he confirmed. “The results weren’t at the level we want, we ask for, so no matter what job you have in football it will be.
“Of course with the national team this noise will be higher and more widespread, I understand that.
“I’m not hiding from it, we don’t enjoy it but we have to keep doing the right things every day to keep getting better.”
Southgate also knows that his future will be determined by England’s World Cup performance and not past successes or the fact that his contract runs until 2024.
“I’m not a fool,” he added. “My only focus at the moment is getting the team fit for (Monday) night.
“We focus on good performance, good result and then you are looking forward to the World Cup. I know in the end that I will be judged based on what happens in the World Cup.
“Contracts are not relevant in football because managers can have contracts for three, four or five years, and if the results are not good enough, you accept that this is the time to let go of those contracts.”
Sterling: It’s not time to panic
Striker Raheem Sterling jumped to defend the England coach under pressure ahead of his side’s Nations League clash with Germany, urging: “It’s time to panic.”
Southgate was booed from some traveling fans after the defeat at San Siro, adding to pressure and scrutiny as the World Cup opener against Iran on November 21 approaches.
However, Sterling was quick to defend his coach ahead of the game against Germany at Wembley on Monday night, noting that England had reached the World Cup semi-finals in Russia four years ago and a runner-up finish in last summer’s European Championship.
Asked about the criticism of Southgate, Sterling said: “We all know that’s what comes with football and playing at the highest level.
“You are under scrutiny and a lot of it is unfair of course, but that is the level we are at with England.
“We’re always under that pressure to win, and that little loss of form isn’t something we need to panic about. We now have a big opportunity coming in the winter to go out and show what we can do again.”
He added: “As for what he’s done since he took office, he’s led us to semi-finals and finals, and that shows the direction we’re going.
“Yes, we know we’re not at the level we can be now, but I still think we have positives to look at.”
‘Players need to take responsibility’
Sterling went on to acknowledge that England, in their worst phase in eight years, is not where it should be right now and ahead of the World Cup in November, and called on the players to take charge as they look to turn things around. around and bear the pressure of Southgate.
“Since the manager came in, he’s always been trying to protect us,” he said. “He’s always tried to make the environment really calm for us so we can go out and do what we need to do on the football field.
“After the summer, we all had to go away and look at ourselves. None of us were proud of these shows and I don’t think it’s Gareth’s duty to take all the blame.
“We have players on our squad who have played at the highest level, and we need to take on some of that responsibility and start putting some of those performances right, winning football matches.
“That’s what we’re here for. We’re not a country just here to participate, we want to win things. We’ve talked collectively and I think we’re in the right state to put things right.”
It’s no surprise to see Sterling return to Southgate
Sky Sports News correspondent Rob Dorsett said:
“It was a huge challenge from Gareth Southgate.
“He has a tough streak to walk, acknowledging England’s results, near the end of last season and against Italy at San Siro on Friday night, he simply wasn’t good enough and accepted the bad feeling from the fans, who booed him at the end of the last two games.
“But on the other hand, he is trying to talk to the players and give a positive message there before the World Cup because it is just over 50 days since England play their first match of the tournament against Iran on November 21.
“He can’t have negativity about the team at the moment, so it’s hard to strike a balance. This is the hardest time he’s had in his six years as England manager, but he also tries to remind everyone that England has done well in the last two tournaments.
“I don’t think it comes as a surprise to see Raheem Sterling choose to sit alongside Southgate at the press conference because Southgate knows Sterling well. They were together just under 21 in 2013 and Sterling was just 17 when he was in England for the U21 side.
“Southgate became somewhat of a father figure to him at the time, and he stood by him when Sterling was criticized in the early part of his England career. So now some roles have been reversed and a chance for Sterling to speak as England manager.”
“This is the most difficult period of Southgate’s era”
Sky Sports News correspondent Rob Dorsett said:
“This is the toughest mantra from a distance that Southgate has had to endure in his six years as England manager.
“It’s a tough time, and it’s under pressure. England have gone five games without a win. They’ve lost two games on the trot and, frankly, they’re bereft of any confidence at the moment.
“However, the pressure does not apply in regards to the possibility of Southgate losing his job ahead of the World Cup. That is not going to happen. It would be ridiculous for the FA to do that” was the way I was described because the level of insecurity and instability that would lead to participation A major tournament is not on the agenda at all.
“However, this next game looks like a big game for England. Southgate was adamant that he was still the right man to lead England to the World Cup. He insists he saw a lot of improvement in this performance against Italy when, quite frankly, not many of us had seen. .
“Southgate said he didn’t think a performance against Italy was out of reach, he knew he would be criticized for saying that and there were question marks again about his tactical decisions. Against Italy, Southgate only responded to Italy going more straight after goal and frankly, it was a long ball straight to forward over the top.
“But Southgate cannot legislate for the top defenders in the Premier League who don’t defend simple balls like those that make Italy’s goal.
“It’s not just about Southgate, there’s a bit of malaise about this English team as a whole at the moment and many of the key players are out of their league or not playing enough football for their clubs, which is a real problem for Southgate. There are still a lot of question marks. which must be addressed to the manager.”
World Cup Group B matches in England
November 21: Iran (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan) – kick-off at 1 pm
November 25: United States of America (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor) – kick off 7 pm
November 29: Wales (Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan) – kick off 7 pm