Gareth Southgate has jumped to the defence of England’s playing style following an uninspiring start to their Nations League campaign.
The Three Lions manager has overseen a defeat away to Hungary and a last-ditch draw with Germany thus far leaving them bottom of Group A3, and his side struggled to create chances in both matches.
Despite the fact he has guided England to a World Cup semi-final and the final of Euro 2020, some sceptics believe Southgate’s tactics are too defensive – often deploying five at the back – given the attacking talent at his disposal.
However, the boss has hit back at those claims ahead of facing Italy in their third Nations League match at Wembley on Saturday, insisting he ‘doesn’t want to sit and be defensive’.
“Look, I’ve got to find a balance because I don’t want to sit and be defensive but some people have managed teams and others haven’t,” he said.
“Until you’ve managed teams, you have a different view of the game because what’s needed to win football matches are the sorts of things that [Mason] Mount did on [Joshua] Kimmich that allows other things to happen.
“Of course for the man who comes and stands on the terrace and in old terms pays his money, I totally understand he wants to see a [Jack] Grealish with a [Raheem] Sterling, with a [Bukayo] Saka…but you’ve got to have a balance of the team, this is top-level football.
“I think that balance of the team to get to a semi-final and final has been pretty good and maybe we’ve talked for years about why we haven’t got there. I’ve got to manage in the way I see fit.”
Southgate also reiterated that he would not outstay his welcome in the role – something he said following England‘s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy last year.
“I won’t outstay my welcome but I think I can do a good job for the team and I think we’ve done a good job for the team,” he continued.
“If you look back I have always said it. I am not going to be here forever am I? There will be another England manager.
“But that’s how I have always felt about it. The major part of that is how the players are. Do I still feel the players give everything and respond to what we do? Yes I do!
“I think we’ll continue to improve the team, which we have done over a consistent period of time and I think we’re also developing young players as well that will leave England in a good place for a long period to come.
“I’m always going to have those situations where people are going to disagree with the selection.”
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