World Cup exit leaves Southgate considering England position
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — After a third shot at a major tournament ended in disappointment, Gareth Southgate wants time to consider his future as England coach.
Southgate is under contract until December 2024, but after the 2-1 loss to France in the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday, he could not guarantee he would stick around until then.
“Whenever I’ve finished these tournaments I’ve needed time to make the correct decision because emotionally you go through so many different feelings and the energy that it takes through these tournaments is enormous,” Southgate said after the match at Al Bayt Stadium. “I want to make the right decision, whatever that is for the team, for England, the FA. I think it is right to take time to do that.”
Southgate’s bosses at the English Football Association are certainly delighted with the progress the national team has made since he was hired in 2016.
Back then, England was in crisis after a humiliating loss to Iceland in that year’s European Championship. Sam Allardyce took over but lasted just one game and 67 days in charge after being filmed by undercover journalists offering advice on how to sidestep an outlawed player transfer practice and trying to cash in on his job with speaking engagements.
The FA turned to Southgate and hasn’t looked back.
England made it to the semifinals of the World Cup in 2018 and lost on penalties to Italy at Euro 2020.
The quarterfinals exit against France is the earliest Southgate has been knocked out of a tournament.
“They could not have given any more. But, of course, tonight we have come up short. And we felt we could come here to win the tournament,” he said Saturday. “Tonight is probably the best, I think, we’ve played against a major nation across the period I’ve been in charge. In the end, the scoreline is all that matters, so that’s very hard to take.”
Southgate was jeered by England fans after a 4-0 loss at home to Hungary in June — its worst home defeat since 1928.
He has also been criticized for being too cautious in the biggest games.
But England dominated possession and chances against defending champions France — and if Harry Kane had converted his 84th minute penalty to tie the game, it could have been a different story.
Kane had already struck once from the spot following Aurelian Tchouameni’s opening goal for France. But he fired his next effort over the bar after Olivier Giroud had restored France’s lead.
“We had better spells, better chances but football comes down to small details — as the captain and the one who missed the penalty, I take responsibility for that,” Kane said. “The team is in a really good place and there will be highs in the future. Standing here now, we are gutted it has come to an end as we had full belief we could go all the way.”
With Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka emerging as two of the standout stars of the World Cup, England has a core of young players to build around for Euro 2024.
The question is whether Southgate will be there to lead them.
“I know, in the past, how my feelings have fluctuated in the immediate aftermath of tournaments,” he said. “To go again is a lot of energy and you’ve got to make sure that you’re ready for that.”
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports