Gareth Southgate: England need to be absolutely ruthless from now until the World Cup

Gareth Southgate says England must be “completely ruthless” from now on as World Cup preparations ramp up after sobering Nations League results in June.

England are in Milan on Friday night to take on final opponents Italy at Euro 2020, knowing they will be relegated from the top flight of the Nations League if they lose.

It would be an embarrassing moment and another heavy blow for one of the World Cup favorites in the penultimate game before the tournament.

Southgate’s side are determined to get back on track for success on Friday as they return to action for the first time since some fans clamored for the manager’s head during the humiliating 4-0 home defeat by Hungary.

“Well, the individual part isn’t important,” the England coach said of the racquet he faced. “We analyzed everything, every department.

“I think when you win … we’ve been on a 22-game unbelievable run this summer and you might not analyze wins as closely as you analyze losses.

“It’s probably not the right approach.

“But I felt like I compromised certain decisions internally and you don’t win by compromising.

“It’s been good for me to get that focus back because we have to be absolutely ruthless and I have to create an environment for the players that allows them to excel.

England were humiliated 4-0 by Hungary at Molineux (Zac Goodwin/PA)

(PA wire)

“And to give them the best platform to be at the level they’ve been at for the last five or six years.”

When asked what the compromises were, Southgate said, “No, because they’re internal things that we’re working on as a team, so it doesn’t have to be public.”

Losses to Hungary ended a miserable four-game slogan in June, with the 1-0 defeat in Budapest followed by draws against Germany and behind closed doors against the Azzurri.

But the 4-0 win over Molineux was the crushing blow that brought them to a crossroads with just 60 days to go before the World Cup.

“I’m not sure if it’s form because when you’re in an international environment there are so many weeks and months between games that you really start from scratch every time,” Southgate said.

“In the summer there were so many circumstances with, firstly, high-quality games, high-quality opponents, but also the need to look after some of our big players.

“I think every nation has done that. When they spoke to the managers of Denmark, Belgium and France over the summer, they all found it challenging because they are all thinking about the World Cup too.

“Also players we wanted to see more of because there aren’t any friendlies after that which you would normally have for a tournament.

“Two games behind closed doors, so a number of reasons, but we also reflected and analyzed everything as a group of employees.

“If you’ve been through (challenging) phases as a manager (like me) it helps you because you really know what needs to happen and how to get through those phases.

“I also think if we came out of these games and wondered why things didn’t go quite as well, then that would be more of a concern.

“But we knew the reasons perfectly and it’s a challenge for us as a staff group and ultimately for us to put that challenge on the players to respond to.

Southgate knows what is at stake for his England side in the coming months (Nick Potts/PA)

(PA wire)

“We know that the level of performance has to be incredibly high to achieve what we want to achieve in the World Cup.”

John Stones’ red card against Hungary means he is suspended for the trip to San Siro.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson joined the squad with an injury to Kalvin Phillips but Southgate says it was always planned for him to feature against Germany and not Italy on Monday.

“Great tests for us, great games to be a part of,” Southgate said of the Group A3 double-header.

“We play two of the historically strongest footballing nations in two of the most iconic stadiums to play in, so great tests for us.

“Of course we want to improve on our performances from the summer and go into the World Cup with a good feeling.

“Coming here and playing Italy in Milan is a great opportunity to do that.” Gareth Southgate: England need to be absolutely ruthless from now until the World Cup

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