Gareth Southgate has told his England players to ignore the noise after they were booed after a poor 0-0 draw with the United States in the World Cup on Friday.
England could have become the first team to clinch their ticket to the round of 16 by beating the United States, but they will count themselves lucky after a lethargic display.
The contrast was stark with the 6-2 win over Iran in the Group B opener. Southgate’s side, however, remain top of the group with four points, with Wales just to play tuesday.
England fans at Al Bayt Stadium expressed their feelings as they booed from the stands at the final whistle.
But Southgate insisted his players should ignore the criticism as he had no complaints about their performance.
“Were we booed? I’m not sure that was aimed at us. Personally, I’m very happy with the players’ application against a really tough opponent,” Southgate said.
“Of course I want our fans to go home happy and I want our fans at home smiling. We didn’t make it today. But I can’t let that affect the team.
“We have to stay calm in times like these. We’ve been through tournaments before.
He added: “It’s the tournament of outside noise. There will be more, I’m sure, but we’re on the right track. We can still win the group and that must be our goal. »
England will advance to the knockout stages provided they avoid a four-goal loss to Wales on Tuesday.
Southgate admitted that England lacked the verve and quality that carried Iran through, blaming their lack of momentum on emotional slack and the tenacity of the United States.
“The players were very downcast and disappointed after the game, but I told them that was not how it was going to be. They showed another side of their game and that will be important going forward,” Southgate said.
“We were coming out of the emotion of the first game. Finding that same energy has always been a challenge. The first six American lines make their defense very difficult to reach.
“We lacked a bit of dynamism. We weren’t able to create many chances. I’m sure there will be a lot of noise about the performance but few teams qualify with nine points. »
England manager Gareth Southgate has played down the possibility that Chelsea winger Raheem Sterling stormed the tunnel after being substituted following an anonymous performance.
“Raheem started refueling right away. He is one of the players subjected to doping controls. I think he went to the bench first and then he came in,” Southgate said.
Meanwhile, England captain Harry Kane believes his side are in an “excellent position” to reach the knockout stages.
“In the game against Iran, we took our chances very well. Today we had two or three good chances and we failed to capitalize on them,” Kane told ITV.
“A draw is not the end of the world for us, it puts us in a good position in the group and we are looking forward to the next game.
“After our first performance, people thought we were going to crush every team we met, but that’s not the case. »
United States coach Gregg Berhalter was pleased with his team’s performance against England, which allows them to face Iran, who beat Wales 2-0 earlier in the day.
“A disciplined performance from the group,” he said. “The end product could still be better.
“Overall, I’m satisfied with the group’s performance and, above all, with its conviction, which has never wavered.
“At the end of the day, this sets up our first World Cup knockout game. We win or we are eliminated from the World Cup. »