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

Gareth Southgate insists he is “not hiding” from criticism as England seek to end a miserable form in which they went five games without a win.

England meet Germany in the Nations League at Wembley on Monday and know they have already been relegated from the top flight of the competition.

On Friday night, the Three Lions were beaten 1-0 in Milan by a side from Italy who failed to qualify for the World Cup finals, which begin in Qatar in November.

The defeat meant England had not won a game since the friendly against Ivory Coast six months ago and in the five games since then they have drawn two and lost three and scored just once – a Harry Kane penalty against the Germans in Munich . It’s their worst run since June 2014 and means they went 495 minutes without a goal in open play.

Southgate was greeted with jeers and shouts of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ when England lost 4-0 to Hungary in June, and he was also booed by visiting fans after the defeat in Italy.

“Look, I’m the manager,” Southgate said on Sunday. “The results weren’t at the level we want, we demand, so it wouldn’t matter what job you have in football, that would be the case.

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“Of course with the national team this noise will be louder and more widespread, I understand that.

“I’m not hiding from it, we don’t enjoy it, but we have to do the right things every day to improve small parts of our performances that can make a difference.

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“If we approach every day that way and keep the standards high and achieve, eventually the results will change.”

Southgate cited his years of experience when asked if he doubted himself after the recent criticism. “I’m lucky that I’m sadly in my 50s now, I’ve been in football for 30 years and in one form or another I’ve gone to 12 tournaments, worked with these guys, done scouting – this will be my seventh as a player be or a coach, so I’ve pretty much seen it all,” Southgate said.

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

“Watching that from my side is fascinating and a life experience that I knew would eventually come with this job.”

On Monday, England’s last game ahead of the November 21 World Cup season is against Iran in a group also made up of Wales and the United States.

Southgate urged a sell-out crowd at Wembley to separate their feelings towards him from the farewell they are saying to his side.

“How they deal with me at the end or whenever, on the phone calls or wherever, 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 this together.

“We can only be successful if we are all pushing in the same direction and we all have that positive energy to be good.

England manager Gareth Southgate after the Nations League loss to Italy.  Getty

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

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“I’m not the first coach to go through a difficult time in terms of results and criticism. That’s part of the territory. It’s a big challenge for me to lead the team through a moment like this.

“You’re not going to have six years like us without a period where you’re going to get some tough results and you have to show resilience to get through those moments.”

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

“Semifinals and finals,” Sterling said of how he would respond to Southgate’s criticism. “He’s someone all the boys trust and these last couple of games shouldn’t change that narrative.

“A lot of it was unfair, but that’s the level we’re at. We’re always under pressure with England, but a little loss of form isn’t a reason to panic.”

Updated September 25, 2022 at 4:08 p.m

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