Skip to main content

Men’s football Southgate says England fans’ unrest ‘creating bit of an issue for group’

UNDER-FIRE Gareth Southgate said today he will not be deterred by England fans’ unhappiness with him, but warned the overall atmosphere is “creating a bit of an issue for the group.”

The Euro 2020 runners-up have progressed the knockout phase of this summer’s edition as Group C winners, but the unimpressive manner of their displays has caused alarm.

England fans made their frustrations known at the end of Tuesday’s 0-0 draw against stubborn Slovenia, just as they did five days earlier after a fortuitous 1-1 draw against Denmark.

The anger was more palpable in Cologne despite the result sealing top spot, with Southgate copping flak as he went to applaud the supporters at full-time.

“They were brilliant in the second half, especially,” the England manager said of the fans. “There was constant noise behind the team.

“I kind of get it. They are not happy with me is the reality of that. I’m not going to back away from that.”

Asked if that hurts, Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Look, I’m not going to… I need them behind the team.

“It’s fine, I have to deal with what I’m dealing with. I wasn’t going to back away from going and thanking people for coming and giving us the support they did.

“But I know that that’s creating a bit of an issue for the group.

“I can deal with that, but I need to support the players.

“The more the fans are, as they were in the second half, behind the team, it’s a massive lift for them, because we’re operating in a very unusual environment.”

Southgate also called the environment around England at Euro 2024 “challenging” and “tough,” speaking after Tuesday’s stalemate against the side ranked 57th in the world.

“I’m very, very proud of the players,” the England boss said.

“They kept composure in a game where they’ve come into it on the back of a really challenging environment.

“It’s sort of taken me back a little bit to days when I was playing with England, and they’ve coped with it exceptionally well.

“To keep their composure, being patient with the ball, waiting for the right opportunity, I thought they did that outstandingly well in the second half.

“We totally controlled the second half, did create a couple of really good chances, which, unfortunately, we didn’t take.

“But kept the defensive solidity, pinned them back, kept wave after wave of attack, didn’t quite manage to get the moment that we needed.

“I’m very happy with what they did. Of course we’d love a couple of goals that sends everybody home happy, but we were definitely an improvement on what we did in the last game.

“We definitely showed more with the ball, and we’ve kept the defensive solidity.

“So, important to win the group because you control your own destiny. It doesn’t mean you get an easier tie because the nature of this tournament means that you can be pitched in anywhere.

“But I think you never want to look back having not topped the group and spiral into tough matches where people can then accuse you that because you didn’t win the group then you’ve ended up with a tougher draw.”

Southgate says England are “just going to have to see what the path leads to,” having achieved their objectives of qualifying and topping the group.

But the England boss knows they “have to build from here” as they strive to make improvements in the round of 16 against one of the third-placed sides on Sunday.

There will be a temptation to make changes after back-to-back draws, with youngsters Kobbie Mainoo and Cole Palmer staking claims with promising performances off the bench on Tuesday.

“He showed what he’s been showing in training,” Southgate said of Palmer. “With him and Kobbie, we had in our minds to get them into the game. They offer something different.

“We wanted to start with Conor [Gallagher] — we felt it helped us to press better and we haven’t been winning the ball high enough up the pitch.

“The part of his game we weren’t able to get was his forward runs that he can exploit opposition defences, so he was ending up receiving a bit deeper and therefore it was logical to bring Kobbie into the game.

“He has different attributes to be able to connect the game through midfield, so very pleased with that.

“In the end, we almost have a goal where [Anthony] Gordon, Mainoo, Palmer connect. It was a super piece of play.

“So important that the players that come in realise they’re going to get opportunities if they keep training the way they’re training. They’re supporting the team brilliantly.

“We know we have some good options to be able to change games, which is crucial with the five substitutions especially.”


We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.



Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 6,227
We need:£ 11,773
19 Days remaining
Donate today