Southgate remains his own 'biggest critic' amid outside noise

By Sports Desk June 24, 2024

Gareth Southgate admits he is his own "biggest critic" amid scrutiny of England's performances at Euro 2024 so far.

The Three Lions edged to a 1-0 victory over Serbia in their opener before being held to a 1-1 draw against Denmark.

However, their performances at the tournament so far have drawn a lot of criticism from fans and pundits alike as England have struggled to find their rhythm.

Harry Kane and Jarrod Bowen have already responded to some of those questions, singling out Gary Lineker's comments on the team, but Southgate remains calm amid the outside noise, saying he finds it easier to ignore ahead of their meeting with Slovenia on Tuesday.

"I'm oblivious to it [criticism from pundits]," Southgate said. "It's not important to me. What's important to me is guiding this group of players through the tournament.

"We're a high-profile team with expectations, and I'm very comfortable living that life.

"I don't need to engage in the external, I'm my own biggest critic. The players are the same. There's nothing to be gained.

"We're brutally honest about what we need to do better - that's how you coach a team and how you improve."

"The mood is very good. We know that there will always be external noise, but it shouldn't affect us. What is important is the internal. Performance is what we're focussing on.

"Of course, we want to hit a different level. There has been an honest appraisal of what we've done and how we need to be better. There are some fundamentals of how we play as a team, that we need to get back to."

Southgate has also faced injury problems among defenders in the build up to the tournament, though it looked like some of those worries could be assuaged as Luke Shaw returned to training on Monday.

The manager has ruled him out of their game against Slovenia on Tuesday and says he is particularly happy with what he has seen defensively from his side so far.

"The game before the tournament against Iceland we were a little bit open, so we were trying to find the right balance of being aggressive, but also perfect defensively," he added. "It's an important part of tournaments, you've got to defend well.

"Our penalty box defending has been good, but we haven't used the ball well enough. We want some turnovers higher up the pitch. But the defending of our box has been first-class!"

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