Gareth Southgate is ready to give England’s players the responsibility to look after themselves at the World Cup in Russia, saying they will not be treated “like children”.
The England boss confirmed his 23-man group for the finals this week, including rookies such as Nick Pope and Trent Alexander-Arnold alongside more experienced heads like Gary Cahill and Ashley Young.
And as preparations continue for Russia, Southgate is willing and trusting enough to let the players off the leash in an “adult environment”.
“There is the environment we create – people take the lead from the leader,” he told reporters. “How I am around it, how relaxed I am in terms of them being given opportunities to go out of the hotel, to go sightseeing, just to escape the bubble.
“It can’t just be 24 hours a day football. OK, they might do a couple of things that get criticised on the back of that, but I have to be brave enough to say I am prepared for them to go into St Petersburg to sightsee or see families or whatever.
“Obviously there is some trust in that which has to be respected but I think they know where that sits.
“You are creating an adult environment. Most of them have young children. I am not going to treat them like children. It’s important you give them responsibility.”
Busy day, boss? pic.twitter.com/ZHsnBxV6Gx
— England (@England) May 17, 2018
This relaxed setting fits with Southgate’s mood heading into the tournament, with the England manager so far comfortable in a hot seat that has scorched previous coaches.
“The only thing that bothers me is that everybody keeps asking me about the pressure,” he said. “That’s when I start to think: ‘Bloody hell, maybe I’m not seeing what it should be.’
“If I felt underprepared, if we were not ready and we’d spent the last 10 days flapping about who should be in, I would probably feel more anxious.”
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