Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Southgate salutes England´s ´togetherness and spirit´ but acknowledges need for improvement

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 2 Jul 2024

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Gareth Southgate hailed the togetherness and spirit demonstrated by England, but acknowledged the need to improve ahead of their Euro 2024 quarter-final with Switzerland.

The Three Lions were considered one of the pre-tournament favourites to go all the way in Germany, but have produced generally underwhelming displays in their four matches so far.

England topped Group B despite winning just one of their three games, and were just seconds away from a humbling last-16 exit against Slovakia, until Jude Bellingham’s sublime acrobatic effort spared their blushes.

Harry Kane then completed the turnaround in the early stages of extra time, as Southgate’s relieved side scraped through to the last eight by the skin of their teeth.

Nevertheless, the England boss is adamant his players’ last-gasp exploits against Slovakia will provide momentum ahead of facing Switzerland in Dusseldorf on Saturday.

“There’s no question it will give the whole group belief,” said Southgate.

“We know we should be better than we’ve been, but we’ve ended up with a lot of young players in important positions and trying to solve problems right the way through the four weeks of the camp.

“But the standout is the way the players are dealing with it. Their togetherness, their spirit.”

Southgate referred to the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96 as similar instances where England were slow out of the blocks, before going on to reach the semi-finals at each tournament.

“Everybody now, 30 years on, looks back at [Euro] 96 in a different way to how it was at the time,” the Three Lions boss added.

“We were bang average against Switzerland [in the opening game at Euro 96]. We were the same against Scotland; Scotland missed a penalty at 1-0 [down]. Spain should have beaten us in a 0-0 draw [in the quarter-finals].

“1990 was similar, so you do go through these moments in tournaments.”

The 53-year-old will oversee his 100th England game in charge against Switzerland, becoming only the third Three Lions head coach to reach triple figures after Walter Winterbottom and Bobby Robson.

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