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Southgate Uses ‘Personal’ Criticism as a Driving Force for England Euro 2024

by: EdwardB


Gareth Southgate has hit back at the personal nature of the criticism and ridicule aimed at him, asserting that it is fueling his determination to guide England to glory at Euro 2024. England secured their third semi-final appearance in four tournaments under Southgate’s leadership after a thrilling penalty shootout victory against Switzerland. The team is eager to maintain their momentum as they face a formidable Netherlands side in Dortmund on Wednesday, a match with significant weight as it is expected to be Southgate’s final tournament at the helm of the national team. Throughout the past month, the weight of expectations and scrutiny has visibly worn on the manager.

Weathering the Storm of Criticism

Southgate has been candid about the toll that the relentless criticism has taken, particularly the personal attacks he has endured. The incident where plastic beer cups were hurled at him by disgruntled fans following a goalless draw with Slovenia during the group stage upset him. This incident, combined with the acerbic commentary from prominent pundits, has created a challenging atmosphere for the England manager.

When asked whether he had become hardened to the negativity, Southgate admitted that he found it impossible to ignore the personal nature of some of the criticism, stating, “This position involves facing criticism and having your professional skills doubted extensively. It’s not typical for someone to have beer thrown at them in this job either.” However, he emphasized his ability to use these experiences as motivation, remarking, “I’ve built a lot of resilience throughout my life, which has made me more determined, and I’m just using it as fuel.” Southgate recognizes the importance of projecting strength and resilience to his squad, noting, The team needs to see me strong in those moments as well; otherwise, the messaging that you’re giving them about what they need to be doesn’t ring true.

Gareth Southgate euro 2024

Shifting the Mindset: Aiming Beyond Participation

England’s recent tournament history shows progress under Southgate’s guidance. Before he arrived in 2016, the team had endured a two-decade drought, failing to reach a semi-final. Since then, they have become a consistent force on the international stage, reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, agonizingly losing to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 final, and reaching the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup, where they fell to eventual champions France. With a semi-final clash against the Netherlands on the horizon, England stands on the cusp of another historic achievement.

Southgate, in his likely 102nd and final match in charge, is determined to see his captain, Harry Kane, lift the coveted trophy. The difference is we arrive in a quarter-final, we’re not satisfied with that, so there is a mindset shift in what we feel is acceptable as a team, Southgate explained, emphasizing the team’s hunger for victory. Within that, it’s knockout football. The margins are so fine. That can quickly change, creating a different outcome. However, the teams that have maintained a winning streak possess this mentality. They don’t settle for just reaching the quarter-finals; instead, they strive to progress further. We need to maintain this mindset. This is not our desired endpoint.

Building a Legacy of Resilience and Belief

Although England’s performances have not always been enthralling, their capacity to overcome challenges has been a defining trait under Southgate’s leadership. The team has consistently showcased resilience in pivotal moments, as demonstrated by their response to conceding a goal against Switzerland in Düsseldorf. Southgate’s tactical triple substitution injected much-needed vigor into the match, ultimately leading to Bukayo Saka’s equalizer. Additionally, England has displayed impressive calmness in penalty shootouts, triumphing in three out of four attempts during Southgate’s tenure.

These experiences, while often anxiety-inducing, have played a crucial role in shaping a winning mindset. Southgate said these players have demonstrated more than simply their ability to play. Navigating tournaments requires many other qualities. The capacity to stay calm and composed while behind in games, or when momentum is against you, is what defines resilience. We have successfully won three out of four penalty shootouts. All those little pieces build character, build belief. Southgate is confident that the team will benefit from these experiences in the future. He believes that given the squad’s age and their current experiences, they will retain that belief for an extended period of time. The opportunity to benefit England exists, but it is a consideration for the future. Southgate also believe that they have an exciting week ahead of them.

The Road Ahead: Facing the Netherlands

As England prepares for their crucial semi-final clash against the Netherlands, Southgate faces several tactical decisions. The return of Marc Guéhi from suspension provides a welcome boost to the defense, presenting Southgate with the option of reinstating the experienced center-back in place of Ezri Konsa. Additionally, Luke Shaw, the squad’s sole left-back, is in contention for a starting spot after recovering from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for five months. His return bolsters England’s defensive options and provides Southgate with tactical flexibility. With a blend of experience, resilience, and a steeled determination, England is poised to face the Netherlands head-on. The weight of expectation rests on their shoulders, but so too does the belief that they can overcome this hurdle and secure a place in the final, etching their names in English football history.

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