England may have qualified for the World Cup following Thursday’s scruffy 1-0 win over Slovenia but manager Gareth Southgate admits they have a “hell of a lot of work to do” if they are to be contenders in Russia next year.
Captain Harry Kane grabbed an injury-time winner at Wembley to secure top spot in Group F but it was another unconvincing display from Southgate’s players and the former Middlesbrough boss knows they must improve over the next eight months.
“I think this team has potential, but we’ve got a hell of a lot of work to do,” he told ITV Sport.
“They’ve come here on the back of what happened in the last European Championships, they’ve had the change of coach, they’ve had a lot of difficulties to deal with through the campaign.
“But we’re there [at the World Cup] and now we build and we look to where we can improve all the time.
“Joe Hart [made] big saves at important times and that’s where his experience has come through.
“We know where we have to do better but that’s for tomorrow. Tonight, we go to the World Cup and that’s fantastic.”
Late goals have underpinned England’s successful qualifying campaign – Kane scored a late equaliser away to Scotland in June, while Adam Lallana struck deep in stoppage-time to earn a 1-0 win in Slovakia in September 2016, which turned out to be Sam Allardyce’s sole game in charge.
And Southgate believes it is no coincidence it happened again on Thursday.
“We played a team who have only conceded four goals in the competition – and you saw why,” Southgate added.
“They defended resolutely, they broke the game up when they had to, they took yellow cards when they had to.
“We weren’t quite as sharp as we hoped to be with the ball. But we stuck at it and it’s not a coincidence if you keep scoring late goals.
“Late goals have been key and we knew they had to win. We changed formation to go two up front at the end.”
— England (@England) October 5, 2017
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!