Gareth Southgate remained defiant in his support of Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire but said he would consider dropping veteran players if the situation became “unsustainable”.
England came from behind in the second half of their last game before the World Cup, leading Germany 3-2 before eventually drawing 3-3 when Shaw, Mason Mount and Harry Kane scored for Southgate’s side.
Things were looking bleak for the confident hosts as Maguire’s mistakes had resulted in a converted penalty from Ilkay Gundogan and a fantastic goal from Kai Havertz, but somehow England struck from a 2-0 deficit with a four-minute brace from the impressive Shaw and mount back .
Despite losing their first-team spots at Manchester United, both Shaw and Maguire featured in both Nations League games for England, with Maguire playing every minute of meetings with Italy and Germany.
When asked about sticking with his trusted players, Southgate said: “That’s always going to be a challenge, especially when it comes to how much football they’ve had. I know everyone will be focused on Harry, but there were some very important moments that Harry delivered during both Luke was another example of someone who is an outstanding footballer, so what do we do – let’s not choose Luke Shaw , because he doesn’t play football enough, or do we choose a player who can do what you saw tonight?
“That’s always going to spark discussion, but I think in those moments we have to do our best and are the most experienced players, unless we’re in a situation where it’s almost untenable and impossible to pick them.”
England, scoring three home goals, is hardly the perfect preparation for a World Cup now less than two months away. However, Southgate is not considering making any drastic changes to his defensive structure ahead of the tournament.
“I don’t think the system was responsible for any of the goals,” he added.
“I think that’s clear. So we were a bit naïve on the second counterattack and the first and third are individual mistakes. What made me happy in the end was the threat we played in that system.
“People will have an opinion, but I think that’s the best way for us.
“I have to accept that there will be a lot of noise, there has been a lot of noise about individual and team selections, but if I’m wishy-washy, change my mind and don’t give us the best possible odds, then there’s no point in me doing that . I think players are committed to it, they know the more we play it the more comfortable we’ll be.
“I think there were some positive signs in the two games with that.”
Southgate’s side were already relegated from Nations League Group A3 and failed to win six straight games for the first time in 29 years. Playing under such pressure and against a backdrop of a losing streak isn’t a bad thing, according to Southgate, who admitted his team organized a meeting without him to discuss their current form weakness.
“They asked if they could meet alone to discuss things,” he said.
“It was such a positive sign for me. It’s not a good sign for some clubs! But they discussed what they wanted to do with me. The best teams have a core of players who drive things. There are more of those Conversations on – eating, a treatment which you as a staff member cannot be involved in so it is crucial that the right messages are filtered through This is an example of how they have handled this.
“That kept people on track. ‘We’re on board with what we’ve been asked to do, we have to stay calm…’ We don’t have that many players who have had moments like that with England now, so you.” learn all together.
“We didn’t want to tear things up tonight and make eight changes and throw things up, we believe in what we’re doing, we gotta stick with what we’re doing. The players took over the board… we were hoping something like this would happen. The true test of team spirit is when there’s a bit of adversity. Having difficult conversations is much more important.”
The next competitive games for both England and Germany will be at the World Cup this winter.
Gareth Southgate is expected to name his 26-man squad for Qatar 2022 on October 20, which will be well ahead of Fifa’s Sunday November 13 deadline.
England meet Iran in their opening World Cup group stage match on November 21 at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha – the same venue where Germany will start their Qatar 2022 season while they face Japan on November 23.
#Gareth #Southgate #defies #choice #defenders #England #problems #Harry #Maguire