Gareth Southgate gave his full support to Harry Maguire as he prepares for Friday night’s Nations League match here against Italy and his first chance to move forward from a terrible start in June in the competition – when the England boss admitted he made mistakes.
Southgate lost 1-0 in Hungary Only their second loss in 23 matches; The other had come on penalties against Italy in the Euro 2020 final. Then, after draws with Germany and Italy, they were relegated to a 4-0 at home against Hungarywhen the crowd at Molineux mocked Southgate.
Southgate said he lacked ruthlessness and made concessions he regretted, suggesting the team’s previous excellent level had managed to shake off the environment.
But it was even more interesting ahead of the second leg with Italy when he discussed Maguire who, after a last bad season, is still out of sight and under ruthless scrutiny. The Manchester United captain has now lost his place at club level.
Southgate has made it clear that the situation cannot go on forever, with the World Cup approaching at the end of November. after Italy, England Germany plays at Wembley on Monday and after that will be the opening match of the World Cup against Iran.
But Southgate drew a peer from the rugby world when he remembered how England manager, Eddie Jones, stood by the Saracen stars when they weren’t playing at their level following the club’s relegation in 2020.
“Eddie felt they were his best players, and although they weren’t purified well, they were still better than the players who weren’t up to it,” Southgate said. “It is clearly not an ideal situation [with Maguire]. We’re only a few weeks into preseason, so, physically, if they have a few 90 minutes, that’s okay. Another seven to eight weeks, that starts to get more complicated.
“But he is an important player for us and it is important to support our best players. Whatever my reputation, I put it there. He is our most dominant aerial defender. He and John [Stones] Unbelievable with the ball – the amount of pressure they put on the team in tournaments because we don’t always have a pivotal midfielder who can push through the game. This means that there is a huge amount of pressure on our central defender to use the ball well and these two players are as good as any player in world football at doing that.”
Southgate, who is expected to return for three defenses at the San Siro, went on to say slack was an issue in June, and that he had become comfortable. But the words do not seem inappropriate at all.
“We were 22 matches without a loss [apart from the penalty defeat against Italy] “And for everyone you think this is going to continue and maybe you’re not entirely ruthless in making certain decisions,” Southgate said.
“You’ve compromised on a thing or two. When you have a hard time running, it strengthens your resolve. We are very clear about why these things happen and what needs to happen to put these things into perspective.”
“Every manager makes mistakes. Every manager reflects. I’m not saying I was comfortable. I was generally saying sometimes, when you’re in a big race, don’t dig too deep into what might be ahead of you and what might go wrong. The summer was really complicated. But we reviewed everything and there were things we should have done better. A lot of times when you win some of those things you still go on but you don’t review them as sharply.”