Southgate says ‘too soon’ to decide on contract

Published July 13, 2021
Southgate is under contract until after next year’s World Cup in Qatar but the Football Assoc­iation had already expressed an intent to extend his deal. — Reuter/File
Southgate is under contract until after next year’s World Cup in Qatar but the Football Assoc­iation had already expressed an intent to extend his deal. — Reuter/File

LONDON: England manager Gareth Southgate says he will pause before any decision over his future but that he currently intends to stay in charge of the team.

England lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties on Sunday after the game ended 1-1 after extra time.

Southgate is under contract until after next year’s World Cup in Qatar but the Football Assoc­iation had already expressed an intent to extend his deal.

“I don’t think now is an appropriate time to be thinking about it. We have to qualify for Qatar. I need time to go away and reflect on Euro 2020. I need a rest,” Southgate told a news conference on Monday.

“To lead your country in these tournaments takes its toll. I don’t want to commit to anything longer than I should. It’s not a financial thing. As I sit here today. I would be wanting to take the team to Qatar,” he added.

The England manager, who led the team to the last four in the World Cup in Russia in 2018 said that a number of successful national teams had suffered the pain of being close to title before finally breaking through.

“If you want sustained success as a team, you need to be constantly evolving, improving and constantly finishing in latter stages of tournaments,” he said.

“It feels like my stomach has been ripped out this morning. But the fact we have had the first signs of some consistency — a World Cup semi-final and a Euro final — has to be a step in the right direction.”

England, who had the advantage of playing all but one of their games in the tournament at their Wembley home, finished top of their group before beating Germany, Ukraine and Denmark in the knockout stage before falling short against Italy.

Having infamously missed a crucial penalty in England’s Euro 96 semi-final shoot-out defeat against Germany, Southgate knows what it is like to endure taunts and jibes after such an agonising loss.

Many past and present England players, including David Beckham and Raheem Sterling, have been vilified by Three Lions fans after major tournament failures.

Southgate said ensuring his stars were supported after the pen­alty heartbreak was “top of his thinking”.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re there, and aligned with their club, and making sure that we look after those boys, absolutely,” he said.

Southgate’s decision to send on Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho in the final moments of extra-time, specifically so they could take penalties, has drawn criticism after the gamble backfired.

Southgate said it was emotionally very difficult to handle the loss.

“When you’re in sport and you get to finals, those opportunities are so rare, so to be close, it’s very hard the day after. You have given everything — the emotions are drained,” he said.

“We will go again. It’s too easy to say we can go to the World Cup in Qatar and win — but that’s a bit glib. We still have to qualify, we still have to win. You have to start the cycle again.

“But to be able to work with these players every day has been fantastic, so when it comes to the end like it has now, it’s hard.”

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2021

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