England manager Gareth Southgate has calmly taken note of relegation from the Nations League A division. “Personally, I think the performance was a step in the right direction,” said the 52-year-old after Friday night’s 1-0 defeat in Italy. However, based on the result, he could understand “that this will not be the reaction”.
He finds it difficult to see the performance too critically. “We had more possession, more shots, more shots on target,” said Southgate, who led England to the final of the European Championship last year – that too was lost to Italy on penalties.
After the fifth game without a win, the Three Lions are heading for a stormy final phase of preparation for the World Cup in Qatar. On Monday, England will host the German selection at London’s Wembley Stadium for the final Nations League group game. “We know the results weren’t what we wanted,” tweeted captain Harry Kane on Saturday, adding that he was combative: “As a team we know what’s at stake and we’re going to fight our way through a tough time.”
The game in the packed Wembley Stadium will be great preparation for the World Cup. “Of course it’s disappointing,” said midfielder Declan Rice. “We want to win every tournament we play. In the Nations League, we fell short of our standard.” In the game in Italy, however, “not everything was bad”.
At the World Cup in Qatar, England will play in Group B against Iran, the USA and Wales.