Under fire Gareth Southgate remains convinced he is the right person to lead England to the World Cup and is confident the team will click in Qatar.
England, who reached the semi-finals in Russia four years ago and were runners-up at last summer’s European Championship, are among the favorites to win the title this winter.
But things went wrong at just the wrong time for England, who suffered the ignominy of relegation from the top flight of the Nations League with a game to go after Friday’s 1-0 defeat in Italy.
Southgate were booed by some of the traveling fans at the San Siro after a fifth game without a win, adding pressure and control ahead of the World Cup opener against Iran on 21 November.
“Look, I think that’s the case at the moment and I have to accept that,” he said of the negative sentiment as Qatar drew closer.
“I think I’m the right person to lead the team into the tournament. I think it’s definitely more stable that way.
“I don’t think (the) performance (against Italy) was far off and I know that’s going to be mocked just because we’re behind a string of defeats.
“But I have to separate the summer and the circumstances surrounding the summer from (this game).”
Asked if he remains confident England will click at the finals, Southgate said: “Yes, without a doubt.
“We play and have played against some top-flight teams and we will be better for that. And especially the younger players who have participated in these games will have learned a lot from them.
“In the past we’ve had friendlies or whatever the games were and then we’ve gone into tournaments and that’s the first time we’ve come up against high-level opponents and it’s hit us in the face quite a lot.
“Now we know the level, now we know what we need to improve on and we’ll be better positioned for that if we’ve had the quality of games we’ve had.”
Kane: We’re not panicking
Harry Kane has told England fans there is no reason to panic about a slump in results ahead of the World Cup.
Despite the worrying nature of the recent drop, Kane believes the team can still do well when the World Cup kicks off in Qatar in November.
When asked if the important message to the fans was not to panic, the England captain replied: “I think so. We don’t panic. We know we want to improve.
“Of course I understand the frustration of the fans. I was and still am an England fan whether I play or not.
“If we have a successful tournament I’m not sure people will worry about the summer we’ve had and that’s the bottom line.
“We need to improve, we know that. The fans are always great and stay with us. I know they will be there on Monday (against Germany at Wembley) to support us and everyone will be looking forward to the World Cup , no matter what happens.” . Hopefully we can repay them with some good results.”
“This is the most difficult period of Southgate’s tenure”
Sky Sports News Senior Reporter Rob Dorsett:
“This is by far the most difficult phase Southgate has had to go through in his six years as England manager.
“It’s a difficult time and he’s under pressure.” “England are five games without a win. They lost two in the trot and frankly they lack any confidence at the moment.
“That means the pressure is not that Southgate might lose his job ahead of the World Cup. That’s just not going to happen. It would be ridiculous for the FA to do this in the way it has been described to me because the level of uncertainty and instability that would lead to a major tournament is not on the agenda at all.
“However, it feels like this next game is a big one for England. Southgate was adamant he was still the right man to lead England to the World Cup. He insists he was on target for the performance saw a lot of improvement against Italy when he was honestly a lot of us who watched didn’t.
“Southgate said he didn’t think the performance against Italy was far off and he knew he would be criticized for it and there were again question marks over his tactical decisions. Against Italy, Southgate only reacted to Italy playing more Right after the goal and honestly it was a pretty straight long ball over the top.
“But Southgate cannot tell top Premier League defenders not to defend easy balls like the one that scored Italy’s goal.
“It’s not just Southgate, there is a malaise about this England team as a whole at the moment and too many of the key players are out of shape or not playing enough football for their clubs which is a real problem for Southgate. There are still a lot of question marks for the manager.”
England host Germany at Wembley Stadium on Monday at 19.45 in their final Nations League game of their Group A3 campaign. It will also be the Three Lions’ last competitive game before the World Cup this winter.
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