Gareth Southgate vows to protect England players in World Cup build-up after Nations League relegation

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areth Southgate played down being booed by England’s roving support after the 1-0 loss to Italy, and suggested he was ready to take the blame and shield his players from criticism then that their lamentable course continued.

England went five competitive matches without a win for the first time since 1992 and were relegated from their Nations League group after Giacomo Raspadori’s fine second-half goal at the San Siro.

Southgate – who was mocked and mocked by home fans in the 4-0 defeat to Hungary at Molineux in June – was booed by much of the traveling England supporters as he cheered on the team away after the final whistle.

“I understand the reaction at the end because those are the results we got in this competition,” the England manager said afterwards. “It’s an understandable emotional reaction.”

England failed to win or score from open play in their four Nations League games in June, culminating in the embarrassing loss to Hungary.

“We can’t say these games have no value,” Southgate added. “These are important games against top teams.

“As I said [previously] there were plenty of reasons for the summer results. Tonight we didn’t get the result we needed or wanted. We are therefore in a series of bad results. It’s up to us to fix it.

“The only way to do that is to stick to what we believe in, to stick to what has allowed us to be successful in previous tournaments, and at the end of the day the players have to stick very tightly together. It’s going to be a lot of noise but it will be around me and that’s fine. It’s my job to take that pressure off for them.

England were disjointed for long periods against the European champions and were limited to late chances for Harry Kane, who forced Gianluigi Donnarumma to a double save, and a header from Jude Bellingham above the closed off.

Southgate, however, insisted the performance was a step up and said his side only lacked a finishing touch in the final third.

“It’s hard for me to be overly critical of performance,” he said. “We had more possession, more shots, more shots on target.

“During big games we played very well. We didn’t manage the decisive moment defensively and we had moments to be more decisive in their final third and our quality wasn’t quite right. is a spell where ultimately the results are going to be something that everyone reacts to but I thought there were a lot of positives for us as a team tonight Lots of good individual performances, I personally thought the performance was a step in the right direction but I totally understand that because of the result it’s not going to be the reaction.

“But I maintain the reaction tonight will be driven by the result. We weren’t far off in terms of performance. I have to keep the players believing in what they are doing and not get distracted and get into the areas that are not correct, so that is my task at this time.

“They will make a lot of noise of course, but it was created from the summer, really and I fully understand that. The players in the dressing room know it was a game they could have won. And s “they try their luck and defend the goal better, then we win. Those are nice margins. We are playing against some of the biggest nations in football and the nice margins are decisive.


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