Sun 25 September 2022 | 19:49

Southgate: "I want England players to feel freedom"

Gareth Southgate has asked England's fans to rally behind the team despite the team's lack of success over the past five games leading up to their match against Germany.

Gareth Southgate

has asked


's fans to get behind their team in Monday's match against Germany, saying that the criticism directed at him "is not healthy" for the team's players.

As England prepare to face their longtime rivals


in their final encounter in the Nations League, the stadium is nearly full out. This is England's longest winless streak since June 2014.

After a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of


in their most recent home encounter and a 1-0 loss to


on Friday, England was eliminated from Group A3. Fans booed Southgate after both losses, and during the match against Italy at San Siro, they chanted, "You don't know what you're doing."

Southgate is hoping his team will have the support of the home crowd for England's final tuneup before the World Cup, which will be played at Wembley for the first time since March.

"We've got 90,000 people – the stadium is sold out – so people want to come and see this team play,"

he said at the press conference.

"That's because the players have done an unbelievable job for six years. We were on the back of a difficult time in terms of the relationship with the fans at the start of that journey and slowly we've built with the finishes that we've already discussed."

"It is not healthy for the team to be having this noise around them. I fully understand that. But it is for me to take responsibility, it is for me to allow them to go and play. I want them to feel freedom. They know we always talk about that around the training ground, on the training pitch, and I would urge the supporters to get behind the team."

"How they deal with me at the end or whenever, on the phone-ins or wherever else is completely different. But this is their last chance to see the boys before they go to a World Cup and we are all in it together. We can only succeed if we're all pushing in the same direction. What happens to me is irrelevant, frankly. It is about the team. The most important thing is the team and the success of the team."

In Southgate's six years as manager, England has reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, the final of Euro 2020, and the final of the 2019 UEFA Nations League. However, England has only won two of their seven matches this year, and those were both exhibitions. They have also gone more than eight hours without scoring an open-play goal.

Indeed, the Three Lions are tied with tiny San Marino as the only countries in the 2022-23 Nations League without a single non-penalty goal. After being asked how he feels about the current criticism, Southgate said: 

"You're not going to have six years as we've had without a spell where you are going to have some tough results. You've got to show resilience to come through those moments. I'm not the first coach to go through a difficult time in terms of results and criticism."

"This is part of the territory – for me, it's a great challenge to lead the team through a moment like this. The results haven't been at the level we want or require. So, no matter what job you have in football, that would be the case. Of course, with the national team, that noise is going to be louder and more widespread; I understand that."

source: SportMob

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