England boss Gareth Southgate has said the negativity towards his management is “not healthy” for the team and urged supporters to get behind his side for Monday’s UEFA Nations League clash against Germany.
A capacity crowd of 90,000 is expected at Wembley for England’s final game before the World Cup begins in Qatar in November.
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England have not won any of their last five matches and Southgate was booed by away supporters when acknowledging them at full-time of the 1-0 defeat to Italy in Milan on Friday.
That criticism followed chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing” and “You’re getting sacked in the morning” from England fans at Molineux in June as Southgate’s side were hammered 4-0 by Hungary, their worst defeat on home soil in 94 years.
England will play at Wembley for the first time since March and Southgate told a news conference: “We’ve got 90,000 people — the stadium is sold out — so people want to come and see this team play.
“And that’s because the players have done an unbelievable job for six years. We were on the back of a really difficult time in terms of the relationship with the fans at the start of that journey and slowly we’ve built with the finishes that have been discussed already in this room.
“Of course, it is not healthy for the team to be having this noise around them. I fully understand that. But it is for me to take responsibility, it is for me to allow them to go and play. I want them to feel freedom. They know we always talk about that around the training ground, on the training pitch, and I would urge the supporters to get behind the team.
“How they deal with me at the end or whenever, on the phone-ins or wherever else is completely different. But this is their last chance to see the boys before they go to a World Cup and we are all in it together.
“We can only succeed if we’re all pushing in the same direction and we’ve all got that positive energy towards doing well. What happens to me is irrelevant, frankly. It is about the team. The most important thing is the team and the success of the team.”
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Southgate insisted he would not shy away from criticism as he focuses on achieving success in Qatar after reaching the 2018 World Cup semifinals and last summer’s delayed Euro 2020 final.
“Look, I’m the manager and the results haven’t been at the level we want and require,” Southgate said. “So no matter what job you have in football, that would be the case.
“With the national team, that noise will be even louder and widespread and I totally understand that. [I’m] not hiding from that. It’s a situation we aren’t enjoying, not winning football matches, but we have to keep doing the right things every day to keep improving the small bits of our performances that can make the difference.
“If we approach every day in that manner and keep standards high, the performances come and eventually the results turn. I don’t think it has ever been different.
“I’m now sadly in my 50s. I’ve been in football 30 years. In one guise or another I’ve been to 12 tournaments, whether that’s working with these chaps or scouting, this will be my seventh as a player or a coach.
“So I’ve seen pretty much everything. I’ve seen the cycle of war with the media, I’ve seen the absolute love-in. We’re somewhere in the middle of that, or not quite in the middle. So that’s fascinating to observe from my side.
“It is a life experience that I knew at some point would probably come with this job. So I have to accept that. I didn’t ever get too carried away with what happened before and I am not too down about what’s happening now.
“I want to put it right, of course. I want the team to win, I want the team to play well. I want the fans to be happy, that’s why I took the job. I wanted to make a difference in English football. That’ll never change and I’ll keep working every hour I have to try and improve what we’re doing.”