Gareth Southgate 'not hiding' from criticism as England look to end miserable run

Three Lions face Germany in the Nations League on Monday having gone five games without a win

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Gareth Southgate insists he is “not hiding” from criticism as England look to end a miserable run of form that has seen them go five matches without a win.

England take on Germany in the Nations League at Wembley Stadium on Monday knowing they have already been relegated from the competition's top tier.

On Friday night in Milan, the Three Lions were beaten 1-0 by an Italy side who failed to qualify for the World Cup finals that kick-off in Qatar in November.

That defeat means England have not won a game since beating Ivory Coast in a friendly six months ago and in the five games since, they have drawn two and lost three, scoring just once – a Harry Kane penalty against the Germans in Munich. It is their worst run since June 2014, and they have gone 495 minutes without a goal in open play.

Southgate was met with jeers and chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” as England lost 4-0 to Hungary in June and he was also booed by the travelling fans following the defeat in Italy.

“Look, I’m the manager,” said Southgate on Sunday. “The results haven’t been at the level we want, that we require, so no matter what job you have in football that would be the case.

“Of course with the national team that noise is going to be louder and more widespread, I understand that.

“I’m not hiding from it, we are not enjoying it, but we have to keep doing the right things every day, to keep improving small bits of our performances that can make a difference.

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“If we approach every day in that manner and keep the standards high, and performances come, then eventually results will turn.”

Southgate pointed to his years of experience as he was asked if he doubted himself following recent criticism. “I’m fortunate that I’m now sadly in my 50s, I have been in football for 30 years and I have gone in one guise or another to 12 tournaments, working with these chaps, scouting – this will be my seventh as player or a coach, so I have seen pretty much everything,” said Southgate.

“I've seen the cycle of war with the media. I've seen the absolute love-in. [Now] we're somewhere in the middle of that, or maybe not quite in the middle.

“That's fascinating to observe from my side and it's a life experience that I knew at some point would probably come with this job.”

Monday is England's final game before their World Cup campaign kicks off against Iran on November 21 in a group that also contains Wales and the United States.

Southgate urged a sell-out crowd at Wembley to separate their feelings towards him from the send off they give his squad.

“How they deal with me at the end or whenever, on the phone-ins or wherever else, is completely different,” he said. “But this is their last chance to see the boys before they go to the World Cup. We're all in it together.

“We can only succeed if we're all pushing in the same direction, and we've all got that positive energy towards doing well.

England manager Gareth Southgate after the Nations League defeat against Italy. Getty

“What happens to me is irrelevant, frankly. It's about the team. The most important thing is the team and the success of the team.

“I'm not the first coach to go through a difficult time in terms of results and criticism. That is part of the territory. For me, it's a great challenge to lead the team through a moment like this.

“You are not going to have six years as we've had without a spell where you are going to have some tough results, and you've got to show resilience to come through those moments.”

Raheem Sterling has been one of Southgate's most trusted disciples over the past six years and the Chelsea forward believes there is no reason to panic because of the Nations League results.

“Semi-final and a final,” said Sterling on how he would respond to Southgate's critics. “He's someone all the boys trust and these last couple of games shouldn't change that narrative.

“A lot of it has been unfair but that's the level we are at. With England we're always under pressure to win, but a small loss of form is nothing to panic about.”

Updated: September 25, 2022, 5:27 PM
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