Gareth Southgate accepts the booing as Alan Shearer slams his England team

Alan Shearer - Alan Shearer slams Gareth Southgate: He's not getting best out of England
In his role as BBC co-commentator Alan Shearer took aim at the England team after their disappointing 1-1 draw with Denmark

Gareth Southgate accepted the blame for England’s underwhelming start to the European Championships as the manager was accused of failing to get the best out of his players.

England are in the driving seat to go through to the knockout stages as Group C winners, but produced another unconvincing performance in Thursday night’s 1-1 draw with Denmark, following the narrow victory over Serbia.

Captain Harry Kane scored, but was substituted, while Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Trent Alexander-Arnold were all taken off – prompting stinging criticism from former England striker Alan Shearer.

One of Shearer’s criticisms revolved around England’s pressing game, which Kane admitted the players did not know how to carry out.

England were booed by pockets of supporters in Frankfurt, but Southgate insisted he will not hide from his critics and accepted he must shoulder responsibility.

Gareth Southgate
Shearer wants Gareth Southgate to get more out of the talent at his disposal - Getty Images/Ryan Pierse

Southgate said: “I think we have to accept this is the environment we’re in, the environment of winning on the biggest possible stage and if I don’t hit the level that’s needed, then we have to accept what comes our way.

“We know the level has to be higher and can be higher. Maybe the biggest thing is we have to accept the environment around us. We are falling a bit short and, ultimately, that is my responsibility. I am the manager. To achieve extraordinary things, you have to go through some difficult moments.

“We have to accept that we are in an environment where we have to deliver. We’ve got to walk towards that challenge and I’m intending to walk towards it, whatever the reaction is, I’m not going to avoid going up to the fans at the end of the game.”

Shearer: ‘Denmark were the better team’

Working as a pundit for the BBC, Shearer did not hold back in his criticism of Southgate, saying: “Gareth Southgate will get serious questions. You see the players out there...Phil Foden and what he has done all season for Manchester City, Jude Bellingham turning up in the first game and not so much tonight, John Stones and what we have seen him do at club level. There is far more to get out of those players than he is getting at the moment.”

Shearer also accused England of not working on their pressing game in training, with Kane admitting that they did not know how to do it effectively against Denmark.

“I think it’s something we’ve got to get better at,” said Kane. “I think we’re starting games well, but when the teams are dropping deeper we’re not quite sure how to get the pressure on and who’s going.”

Shearer said: “The way England are pressing at the moment makes me think they haven’t worked on it at all. When the forwards press the midfield are stood 20 yards behind them, which is not enough. You can’t just go in twos and threes, you need to do all of the team together or nothing.

“In truth, Denmark were the better team and deserved to win. We got a point, but there are a lot of improvements to be made. It was not good enough. It is tournament football and it is our job to dissect what has gone wrong and there is plenty to look at that there. Where do you start? No energy, no guile. I would not say lack of effort, but there is so much more to come from those players.”

Southgate: ‘The team didn’t function today’

Southgate suggested the pressure of having to perform for England may be getting to some of his players, claiming they “care too much”.

“It’s not a case that they’re not trying,” said Southgate. “But we’ve got to find a better way of playing. We’ve got to find more quality in what we’re doing. So I don’t think people would look at them and say they don’t care. If anything at the moment we care too much and we’re going to find a way of getting that right balance.

“The team didn’t function today. That’s my responsibility, I’m in control of that. I have to find solutions to that. The players are giving absolutely everything they have. As I said earlier, if anything they show they care too much and, yes, it’s for me to find better solutions than we’ve shown.

“We have to find the best way forward. So that’s the responsibility I have. I’ve got to lead the group in the right way, make intelligent decisions to find the best balance. To find more of a threat with what we’re delivering with the ball and to be better without the ball, so that we’re not needing to defend for the long periods of the game that we are at the moment.”

Harry Kane
Harry Kane was substituted after a fairly ineffectual 70 minutes, despite putting England ahead early on - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

Southgate’s experiment of playing Alexander-Arnold in midfield is yet to work, while Kieran Trippier, who is naturally a right-back, is having to stand in at left-back while Luke Shaw recovers from injury.

The balance at the top of the pitch has also not looked right, and Southgate said: “At the moment, it’s clear in terms of the balance of the team that we don’t have our best left-back available. So that denies you the opportunity for that balance.”

On his decision to take off Bayern Munich striker Kane, who missed the final two games of the Bundesliga season with a back injury, Southgate added: “He’s only had one 90 minutes in the last five or six weeks. We thought to get speed in the front line at that moment, to get energy to be able to press was important. So that was the decision we took with all of the substitutes.”