Gareth Southgate accepts the circumstances surrounding his ascent to the top job in English football are “not ideal” but remains confident he can successfully guide the Three Lions through the next four matches.
Southgate was named England interim manager on Tuesday after Sam Allardyce left the role by mutual agreement following a newspaper sting in which the former Sunderland boss was filmed offering undercover reporters advice on how to circumvent Football Association (FA) rules on transfers.
Under-21 boss Southgate will now take charge of the games against Malta, Slovenia, Scotland and Spain.
He told the FA website: “Obviously, it’s been a bit of whirlwind because I was expecting to be involved in two different games with a different set of players and a different staff.
“I think everybody recognises that it’s not an ideal situation to take over at such short notice, but this does give us the best possible continuity and I’m looking forward to the challenge that’s there and I’m confident that we can get the results that we want.
“The focus now has to be on playing football, putting in good performances and getting results – starting with Malta at Wembley.
“These are four big games for us as a country. I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’m confident that we can get good results.
“We have an excellent group of players and the future is certainly bright for this England team.”
Southgate was a candidate to succeed Roy Hodgson in July but reportedly felt it was too early in his career to take on such a high-profile position, leaving the path clear for Allardyce to be appointed.
He added: “We have an excellent group of players and the future is certainly bright.
“I’m a passionate Englishman and I think people know where I stood on the long-term role in the summer.
“The interim role was never discussed at that stage because The FA were always confident that they could get somebody permanent.”
Southgate’s experience with the Under-21s is likely to stand him in good stead with some of his former pupils, such as Harry Kane, John Stones, Luke Shaw, Dele Alli and Eric Dier, now representing the senior team
“We have some exciting players and I have great belief in the ability of our young English players,” said the 46-year-old.
“The good thing about St George’s Park is that I’ve been able to interact with a lot of the senior players as well over a period of time. I played with Wayne [Rooney] on his England debut, so I have an understanding of where they are.
“I hope we can play in a style like the Under-21s have. We want to win but we want to win games by playing well too.”
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