Gareth Southgate has urged England’s supporters to portray themselves in a better light in Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, after the country’s friendly against Germany was marred by fans chanting distasteful songs.
A section of England’s travelling support sang distasteful songs referencing the First and Second World Wars during the 1-0 defeat in Dortmund, while the German national anthem was loudly booed just seconds after God Save The Queen had been impeccably observed by home supporters.
The Football Supporters' Federation was quick to condemn the behaviour of England’s fans, described by the Independent’s Chief Sports Writer Ian Herbert as “the behaviour of scum”, while Southgate was critical of the chants after the match.
And speaking in his media conference ahead of the match at Wembley against Lithuania, Southgate stepped up his criticism, labelling the chants as “unacceptable”.
“Supporters represent the country when they go away and the majority do that,” Southgate said.
“Unfortunately some were chanting things the other night that were unacceptable - but we'd prefer to focus on those that support us well.
“It's a sell-out crowd tomorrow and we're grateful for that support.”
England head into the fixture against Lithuania hoping to preserve their 100% home record in Group F, having previously beaten Malta 2-0 and Scotland 3-0 this season.
Lithuania currently sit fourth in the group, one point above Scotland. Ranked 107th in the world by Fifa, they have lost the two previous matches they have played against England.
But despite their lowly standing in international football, Southgate has warned his players not to underestimate their opposition, even identifying Lithuania’s wingers as potential threats. Simonas Paulius and Deivydas Matulevičius play for Latvian side Ventspils and Belgium’s Royal Mouscron, respectively.
“We'll have to pay attention to their wide players. They're good in counter-attack and against Scotland scored with some good interplay with their front players,” Southgate added.
"We'll have to make sure our attention is correct on set-plays. They'll be the key areas for us.
"We need to make sure we make good chances rather than shots we don't need to take on, move the ball quickly but in a controlled manner.
"We want to play with a good tempo and press with a good tempo but also have calmness. Against Germany I thought we played with controlled aggression without the ball, sometimes just having that calmness in the opposite half of the pitch is a good reminder for us.”
It remains to be seen whether Southgate retains the three-man defence that impressed against Germany, with Manchester United’s Chris Smalling picking up an injury in training. Captain Gary Cahill is meanwhile suspended.
Southgate has selected Joe Hart as his captain for the match, citing the 29-year-old’s experience at international level as the main factor in his decision.
“Joe is our most-capped international and showed maturity since last summer's (European Championship) disappointment.”