Southgate knew backlash would come at some stage of England career

Reuters

Gareth Southgate said on Sunday he knew he would suffer stinging criticism at some stage of his tenure as England manager, but he remains confident the Three Lions will turn their form around in time for the World Cup.

England have been relegated from the top tier of the Nations League after failing to win any of their first five games in Group A3.

Southgate was booed by the travelling support after a 1-0 loss to Italy in Milan on Friday, which stretched England's run without scoring from open play to 495 minutes.

"With the national team that noise is going to be even louder, and more widespread and I totally understand that, I'm not hiding from that," Southgate said at his pre-match press conference ahead of Germany's trip to Wembley on Monday.

"It's a situation that we aren't enjoying, not winning football matches. But we have to keep doing the right things every day, to keep improving small bits of our performances that can make a difference.

"If we approach every day in that manner and keep the standards high, and performances come, then eventually results will turn."

Southgate has some credit in the bank after surpassing expectations to lead England to the semi-finals of the last World Cup and then a first major tournament final for 55 years at Euro 2020.

He was also credited with helping form a bond between his players and the England support and media.

But having experienced the criticism faced by his managers when an England player, Southgate said he has been prepared for what could come his way if his side fail to perform in Qatar.

"This will be my seventh (major tournament) as a player or a coach," he added.

"I've seen pretty much everything. I've seen the cycle of war with the media. I've seen the absolute love-in. (Now) we're somewhere in the middle of that, or maybe not quite in the middle.

"That's fascinating to observe from my side and it's a life experience that I knew at some point would probably come with this job."

Monday is England's final game before their World Cup campaign kicks off against Iran on November 21.

Southgate urged a sellout crowd at Wembley to separate their feelings towards him from the send off they give his squad.

"How they deal with me at the end or whenever, on the phone-ins or wherever else, is completely different," he said.

"But this is their last chance to see the boys before they go to the World Cup. We're all in it together.

"We can only succeed if we're all pushing in the same direction, and we've all got that positive energy towards doing well.

"What happens to me is irrelevant, frankly. It's about the team. The most important thing is the team and the success of the team."

Raheem Sterling has been one of Southgate's most trusted disciples over the past six years and the Chelsea forward believes there is no reason to panic because of the Nations League results.

"Semi-final and a final," said Sterling on how he would respond to Southgate's critics.

"He's someone all the boys trust and these last couple of games shouldn't change that narrative.

"A lot of it has been unfair but that's the level we are at. With England we're always under pressure to win, but a small loss of form is nothing to panic about."


>