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Southgate urges England supporters to ´stay with the team´ amid Euro 2024 criticism

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 25 Jun 2024

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Gareth Southgate pleaded for England’s supporters to “stay with the team”, after venting their frustration following the goalless draw with Slovenia.

The Three Lions advanced to the Euro 2024 knockout stages as Group C winners, despite winning just one of their opening three games and scoring two goals.

Southgate’s side, who came under scrutiny following their 1-1 draw with Denmark, did little to silence those critics with another underwhelming performance against the Slovenians.

Despite dominating large periods of the contest with 74% of possession, it yielded an expected goals (xG) tally of just 0.87, with the front three of Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden registering just two shots on target between them.

Sections of England fans jeered their team at the final whistle, while hurling empty drinks cups in the direction of Southgate as he applauded them.

The Three Lions boss empathised with the supporters, but urged them to point the finger of blame at him, rather than his players.

“I understand it. I’m not going to back away from it,” he told reporters during his post-match press conference. “The most important thing is the supporters stay with the team.

“I understand the narrative towards me, and that’s better for the team than it being towards them. But it is creating an unusual environment to operate in. I’ve not seen any other team qualify and receive similar.

“[The players] kept composure in a game where they’ve come into a really challenging environment. Of course, we’d love a couple of goals that sends everybody home happy. But we were definitely an improvement on what we did in the last game.”

“I think the changes we made had a positive effect on the game tonight. We weren’t able to find the right pass, the final finish. But we are improving.”

Despite the disappointment at their performance levels, England have managed to avoid the half of the draw that includes the likes of France, Germany, Spain and Portugal.

The Three Lions will play either the Netherlands, who finished third in Group D, or Group E’s third-placed side in the round of 16 in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday.

And Southgate knows a positive atmosphere within the camp will be crucial as the Euro 2020 finalists target another deep run in this competition.

“You never want to look back having not topped the group and spiral into tough matches where people can then accuse you that, because you didn’t win the group, you’ve ended up with a tougher draw,” he added.

“We have made England over the last three or four years fun again. I think it has been enjoyable for the players, and we have got to be very, very careful that it stays that way.”

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