Gareth Southgate insists he is still the ‘right person’ to take England to the World Cup


England manager Gareth Southgate insists he is still the right man to lead the country into the World Cup after his side slipped to its third defeat in its last five games and he was jeered by thousands of travelling supporters at the San Siro.

And England captain Harry Kane acknowledged the fears of the fans, with Qatar approaching, but urged them not to panic and trust the national team to repeat the form of Russia 2018 and Euro 2020.

England’s 1-0 defeat on Friday night by a young Italy team, which did not even qualify for this winter’s tournament in Qatar, relegated England to the second tier of the Nations League and marked their third loss in five games without a victory, making it their worst run since 2014.

But Southgate remained defiant in the face of such a run and said: ‘I think I’m the right person to take the team into the tournament. It’s more stable that way, without a doubt. I don’t think that the performance [against Italy] was far off and I know that will get derision just because we are on the back of a run of defeats.’

It is more than seven hours since an England team once heralded for its attacking riches scored a goal from open play.

England have one last chance to repair morale when they face old foes Germany at Wembley on Monday night and Southgate said: ‘The players know that, in the main, the performance [against Italy] was good. We’ve got to be decisive in the final third. We’re not managing that at the moment and that’s a head-scratcher, given the quality of the players and the positions they got themselves into.’

Kane, who has scored England’s solitary goal in the five games of this Nations League campaign, said: ‘I understand the frustration of the fans. I was an England fan and still am an England fan whether I’m playing or not. But ultimately we are going to be judged on what happens come November. If we have a successful tournament I’m not sure people will be worried about the spell we had over the summer, that’s the bottom line.

‘We need to improve, we know that. The fans are always great and stick with us. I know they will be there on Monday supporting us.’

Southgate added: ‘Normally, you go into the World Cup on the back of a qualifying campaign that’s relatively comfortable, some friendlies you hand pick and a couple of weaker friendlies to keep your fitness levels.

‘We’re on the back of Germany twice, Italy twice and a Hungary team that have been exceptional. So we’ve had far more difficult games and we haven’t managed to win those games.’

There is currently no appetite at the Football Association to sack a manager who led England to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2018 and the final of Euro 2020.


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