Gareth Southgate insists he is right person to lead England to World Cup in Qatar
Under-fire Gareth Southgate remains convinced he is the right person to lead England into the World Cup and is confident that the team will click in Qatar.
Having reached the semi-finals in Russia four years ago and finished runners-up at last summer’s European Championship, England are among the favourites to lift the trophy this winter.
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But things have gone awry at just the wrong time for England, who suffered the ignominy of relegation from the Nations League top tier with a game to spare following Friday’s 1-0 loss in Italy.
Southgate was booed by some of the travelling support at San Siro after a fifth winless match, which ratchets up pressure and scrutiny with the World Cup opener against Iran looming large on November 21.
“Look, I think that’s currently where it is and I have to accept that,” he said of the negative vibe as Qatar approaches.
“I think I’m the right person to take the team into the tournament. I think it’s more stable that way, without a doubt.
“I don’t think (the) performance (against Italy) was far off and I know that’s going to get derision just because we’re on the back of a run of defeats.
“But I’ve got to separate the summer and the circumstances around the summer from (this match).”
Asked if he remains confident that England will click when the finals come around, Southgate said: “Yeah, without a doubt.
“We’re playing and have been playing some top-level sides and we will be better for that. And the younger players, in particular, that have been in these games will have learned a lot from them.
“In the past we’ve had runs of friendlies or whatever the matches are and then we’ve gone into tournaments and that’s the first time we’ve hit high-level opposition and it’s hit us in the face quite often.
“Now we know the level, now we know what we’ve got to improve and we’ll be better placed for that by having had the quality of matches that we’ve had.”
Kane: We’re not panicking
Harry Kane has told England supporters there is no need to panic over a slump in results ahead of the World Cup.
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Despite the worrying nature of the recent decline, Kane believes the team can still come good when the World Cup kicks off in Qatar in November.
Asked if the important message to supporters was not to panic, the England captain replied: “I think so. We’re not panicking. We know we want to improve.
“Of course I understand the frustration of the fans. I was an England fan and still am an England fan whether I’m playing or not.
“If we have a successful tournament I’m not sure people will be worried about the spell we had over the summer, and that’s the bottom line.
“We need to improve, we know that. The fans are always great and stick with us. I know they will be there on Monday (against Germany at Wembley) supporting us and everyone will be excited about the World Cup, regardless of what happens. Hopefully we can repay them with some good results.”