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Southgate: Winning the Qatar World Cup is our only remedy after Euro

Sat 26 March 2022 | 16:09

The surprising failure of Italy to qualify for the World Cup serves as a reminder of how rapidly football can alter. Gareth Southgate, on the other hand, sees 2022 as the year when England's years of consistent growth in Qatar will be realized.

The sorrow of losing in the final of last summer's European Championships at Wembley to Italy is still fresh in Southgate's mind, but he is sure that his players can maintain their rising trajectory after a careful examination of that match and their outstanding run in the competition. 

In the end, what happens at the World Cup this winter will determine if

England

achieves the aim set for them by former FA director

Greg Dyke

in 2013: to win the 2022 World Cup.

After getting so near to success on their home grounds, the anticipation and hope are that they will reach the next level and end their long wait for a major trophy. Southgate recognizes that only triumph will suffice for him and his team now. 

"In the end, that's what we're here for. That's what we've always been here for," Southgate told 

Sky Sports 

ahead of Saturday evening's friendly with Switzerland.

"That's been a goal for five, six years since the chairman before last set that goal. 2022 has always been in our mind as a development. We've hit the right markers on the lead-in to that.

"We know to win a tournament is so difficult and I think this is a really competitive one because there are any number of teams that are strong. We're on the right path going towards that and in our heads as a group we know it's the only thing that will really fulfil us."

Southgate reflected on the positives from last summer's disappointment, which he aims to emulate this winter, as well as the areas where England must strengthen if they are to succeed in Qatar. 

"We studied previous winners of major tournaments and we hit so many of the targets," said Southgate.

"In the end last year we were second top scorers in the world, goals-per-game, and we had the best defensive record, goals-per-game. So there's lots of things we do well which we have to continue to do.

"In the big moments there's still a need to retain the ball better and be a bit braver in possession of the ball. We managed that well through most of the tournament, where there was huge pressure on every game for us as effectively hosts. And then we were a little bit passive without the ball in the final, especially as the game wore on.

"It's those small areas. But another game would be another scenario. Who knows the implications of going ahead after two minutes and what that did to our mentality but also the flow of the game?"

The internationals against

Switzerland

and

Ivory Coast

kick off the build-up to the World Cup this week before the Nations League kicks off in June.

The clock is ticking out until November, and Southgate is well aware that he must make the most of the time he has. This week, for example, the emphasis is on honing tactical skills. 

"There are definitely opportunities. There are some tactical things we'd like to see. There are some players we'd like to see," he says.

However, he acknowledges that the competition's odd scheduling may have an impact on his ultimate team selection. 

"I think we've got a framework but we're going to go through the end of this season, where some players are in very good form, some are not so strong at the moment. We're going to go through a close season which could mean people change clubs, people have totally different circumstances. We're then going to start another season, where there's form, new players perhaps emerging.

"Wrapped around that there's the group who have been the core who have huge experience of big matches with England and that has to count for a lot. To win championships and trophies you need players with experience in those types of environment, to know how they're going to react in those moments."

There are a lot of moving pieces in this system. It's now up to Southgate to make sure they're all in the correct location for the World Cup. Is he upbeat about the next year?

"Very," he says. "We've got an exciting team. We've had three or four very good years.

"Even in the period, the autumn of 2020 where we didn't qualify through the Nations League and we came under fire a little bit, we learnt so much from those games - Denmark home and away, Belgium home and away - and we found a lot of new players through that period as well which put us in good stead for the Euros.

"So whatever happens in the next couple of months we'll learn a lot. It's about preparing ourselves.

"We want to have a real good crack with the Nations League, I think it's a good tournament. But ultimately our year is going to be judged on the World Cup."

 


source: SportMob

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