Southgate defends tactics and insists he will not ‘outstay his welcome’ as England boss

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Gareth Southgate complains Credit: PA Images
Gareth Southgate complains Credit: PA Images

Gareth Southgate has hit back at continued criticism over his perceived conservative approach, whilst vowing not to “outstay” his welcome as England manager.

The Three Lions boss has taken his country to a World Cup semi-final, a Nations League third-place finish and the final of Euro 2020 in the past four years.

But even during his most successful spells he has had to face accusations that he sets up his sides too cautiously.

Supporters and former England players have called for the likes of Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold and Manchester City’s £100million man Jack Grealish to play more.

But Southgate refutes the idea that he is not gung-ho enough and singled out what he considered a selfless performance from Mason Mount in the 1-1 Nations League draw in Germany as something that largely goes unnoticed.

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“Look, I’ve got to find a balance because I don’t want to sit and be defensive but some people have managed teams and others haven’t,” he said.

“Until you’ve managed teams, you have a different view of the game because what’s needed to win football matches are the sorts of things that Mount did on (Joshua) Kimmich that allows other things to happen.

“Of course for the man who comes and stands on the terrace and in old terms pays his money, I totally understand he wants to see a Grealish with a (Raheem) Sterling, with a (Bukayo) Saka…but you’ve got to have a balance of the team, this is top-level football.

“I think that balance of the team to get to a semi-final and final has been pretty good and maybe we’ve talked for years about why we haven’t got there. I’ve got to manage in the way I see fit.”

Asked if he had been in touch with pundits who have criticised his approach, Southgate replied: “Never.

“They are normally in a role where they are paid to give an opinion and that is what they have to do. They are giving an opinion as they see it – that’s part of the industry, isn’t it?

“It is not nice when you are on the receiving end, of course not. You file it, you use it to motivate yourself and you totally understand it is part and parcel of being a manager.”

Speaking the day after last summer’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy and before he had signed a new contract, Southgate had said he would not stay in the role for longer than he was wanted.

He reiterated that stance as he answered questions regarding the criticism he faces as England boss.

“I won’t outstay my welcome but I think I can do a good job for the team and I think we’ve done a good job for the team,” he said.

“If you look back I have always said it. I am not going to be here forever am I? There will be another England manager.”But that’s how I have always felt about it. The major part of that is how the players are. Do I still feel the players give everything and respond to what we do? Yes I do!

“I think we’ll continue to improve the team, which we have done over a consistent period of time and I think we’re also developing young players as well that will leave England in a good place for a long period to come.

“I’m always going to have those situations where people are going to disagree with the selection.”

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