England manager Southgate defends ‘streetwise’ tactics at Euro 2024 and says backlash is difficult

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) — England is in the semifinals of Euro 2024. Some of its fans won’t credit manager Gareth Southgate.

After beating Switzerland on penalties in the European Championship quarterfinals on Saturday, Southgate celebrated in front of a stand packed with England fans, his players dancing in a line behind him.

It felt like an answer to his detractors, some of whom even threw plastic beer cups in his direction less than two weeks ago.

Southgate admitted the criticism he’s faced over England’s pragmatic, cautious style — he says his team is “streetwise” — has stung.

“Every now and then you think, ‘Surely there has to be some enjoyment in this job?’ So if I can’t enjoy that moment, then I think it’s a waste of time. I love the players, I love being in that moment with them,” Southgate said.

“I can’t deny that when it’s as personal as it’s been in the last few weeks, on a human level it’s quite difficult, but we’re fighting. We’re not going to stop fighting.”

England has been to the semifinals in three out of four major tournaments during Southgate’s eight-year tenure.

No other England manager in history has achieved that kind of consistent success — though the team hasn’t won a title.

Increasingly, fans have showed their unhappiness with Southgate’s cautious instincts and the fact that the team has rarely played an entertaining style, especially at Euro 2024. Of England’s five games, Southgate’s team won only once in 90 minutes, the 1-0 opener over Serbia.

All too often in the past, England started well but couldn’t finish off games, Southgate argued. “We weren’t savvy, we weren’t tournament-wise,” he said.

That’s something he’s tried to change since taking charge in 2016, when England had just gone out of the European Championship to Iceland under Roy Hodgson.

“The games that we’ve ultimately gone out (of tournaments), people can always look back and highlight things. But in general, we’ve shown the resilience that the teams that win tournaments have had for years and years. Italy, France, Spain,” he added.

“It’s not all pure football. It’s other attributes that they’ve had, and we’re showing a little bit more of that streetwise nature.”


AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up