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Gareth Southgate baffles with bizarre comment as Alan Shearer rages after England draw with Denmark

Gareth Southgate baffles with a bizarre comment in his post-match interview as Alan Shearer rages after England draw 1-1 with Denmark.

The Three Lions produced an alarmingly poor performance and faces boos from their own fans as they struggled and missed the chance to book their place in the knockouts at Euro 2024.

They struggled in Frankfurt, looking lethargic and disjointed in their second group game with Morten Hjulmand’s 25 yard rocket cancelled out Harry Kane’s early goal with the England captain later taken off amid disappointing display.

England still sit top of Group C and can get into the last 16 against Slovenia on Tuesday, but if they want to go all the way and win it, they will drastically need to improve.

Southgate said: “I think we have to accept this is the environment we’re in, the environment of winning on the biggest possible stage and if I don’t hit the level that’s needed, then we have to accept what comes our way.

“We know the level has to be higher and can be higher. Maybe the biggest thing is we have to accept the environment around us. We are falling a bit short and, ultimately, that is my responsibility. I am the manager. To achieve extraordinary things, you have to go through some difficult moments.

“We have to accept that we are in an environment where we have to deliver. We’ve got to walk towards that challenge and I’m intending to walk towards it, whatever the reaction is, I’m not going to avoid going up to the fans at the end of the game.”

Alan Shearer said: “Gareth Southgate will get serious questions. You see the players out there… Phil Foden and what he has done all season for Manchester City, Jude Bellingham turning up in the first game and not so much tonight, John Stones and what we have seen him do at club level. There is far more to get out of those players than he is getting at the moment.”

Shearer accused England of not working on their pressing in training, as Kane admitted that they didn’t know how to do it effectively against Denmark.

“I think it’s something we’ve got to get better at,” said Kane. “I think we’re starting games well, but when the teams are dropping deeper we’re not quite sure how to get the pressure on and who’s going.”

Shearer said: “The way England are pressing at the moment makes me think they haven’t worked on it at all. When the forwards press the midfield are stood 20 yards behind them, which is not enough. You can’t just go in twos and threes, you need to do all of the team together or nothing.

“In truth, Denmark were the better team and deserved to win. We got a point, but there are a lot of improvements to be made. It was not good enough. It is tournament football and it is our job to dissect what has gone wrong and there is plenty to look at that there. Where do you start? No energy, no guile. I would not say lack of effort, but there is so much more to come from those players.”

“It’s not a case that they’re not trying,” Southgate said. “But we’ve got to find a better way of playing. We’ve got to find more quality in what we’re doing. So I don’t think people would look at them and say they don’t care. If anything at the moment we care too much and we’re going to find a way of getting that right balance.

“The team didn’t function today. That’s my responsibility, I’m in control of that. I have to find solutions to that. The players are giving absolutely everything they have. As I said earlier, if anything they show they care too much and, yes, it’s for me to find better solutions than we’ve shown.

“We have to find the best way forward. So that’s the responsibility I have. I’ve got to lead the group in the right way, make intelligent decisions to find the best balance. To find more of a threat with what we’re delivering with the ball and to be better without the ball, so that we’re not needing to defend for the long periods of the game that we are at the moment.”

Southgate continued: “At the moment, it’s clear in terms of the balance of the team that we don’t have our best left-back available. So that denies you the opportunity for that balance.”

On his decision to take off Kane: “He’s only had one 90 minutes in the last five or six weeks. We thought to get speed in the front line at that moment, to get energy to be able to press was important. So that was the decision we took with all of the substitutes.”

Speaking on his The Rest is Football podcast, Lineker called Southgate’s tactics “inexplicable” and said Harry Kane’s admission the team didn’t know when to press opponents as “beyond concerning”.

Whole Gary said Southgate is “a f—— great human being”, he turned attention to the Denmark game: “I mean, you can think of all sorts of words and expletives if you like, but it was s—.

“Was it tactically inept? It’s really hard to be critical of Gareth Southgate because, overall in the England role, he’s turned England’s fortunes around in many ways.

“Having said that, he’s kind of ended up adopting a really talented bunch of players. We’ve done a semi-final of a World Cup final, a final at the European Championships, quarter-final of the subsequent World Cup where, to be honest, we were a little bit unlucky.

“He’s an amazing leader, he’s a great communicator, he’s transformed the public’s opinion of the national team and the players. But, tactically, the first game [against Serbia]… and we’ve seen it in other tournaments as well. England kind of start okay and then get a goal and then everything changes, and it’s almost like the kind of tactics of, get a lead, hang onto it. And the game’s moved on from that.”

Lineker added that it “inexplicable” England didn’t play a “high press”, as most of their players clubs’ did so.

“They might play it for about three minutes in the game. Are they not coached to play that?

“If anyone says that the England team is not trying or not giving 100 per cent, that is nonsense. They’re just a little bit lost tactically. And that comes from the manager, I’m afraid. It really does. He’s got to get England playing higher up the pitch, as a unit. Because, at the moment, they’re not a unit.”

He argued that Jude Bellingham should be moved into midfield alongside Declan Rice, and on Southgate again: “He talked about, ‘I’ve never been able to replace Kalvin Phillips. I thought, ‘Oh come on’. [Adam] Wharton could do that job easily. [Kobbie] Mainoo could do that job.

“If you want two holding players, Gareth, you can do that. But Bellingham could do that. Bobby Robson, Terry Venables, would have gone, ‘This is what you’ve got to do for the team. This is your job’.

“Footballers will always give everything. They always give everything. But do you know one thing they need? They need to know exactly what their job is. I guarantee you, right, the players will be going, ‘We need leadership from the top and we need to be told how to play’.

“I’ve seen this tournament after tournament now, with an unbelievably gifted bunch of players. You’ve got to be brave. You can’t play and worry about your team’s weaknesses. You’ve got to play to your team’s strengths.”

Alan Shearer said to BBC Sport‘s Chris Bevan: “I didn’t think England were under too much pressure coming into Euro 2024, but they are about to really feel it now.

“I heard Kyle Walker defend their performance against Denmark, and England’s tactics, afterwards, and I understand why – I have been in his position as a player, and said similar things myself.

“But England were booed off after Thursday’s 1-1 draw in Frankfurt, and the crowd were gone within a minute of the game ending, so that tells you the mood of the fans.

“I was just as critical in my co-commentary at the Waldstadion, and so were Micah Richards and Rio Ferdinand in the BBC studio.

“I think we all had a valid point, because that performance was nowhere near good enough.

“I know England sit top of their group and are unbeaten but you have to analyse the performance and look at what went right and wrong and, while there is plenty to chew over what went wrong, not much, if anything, was right.

“When you’re a player in the England camp at a major tournament, though, you go into protective mode. You can become very defensive, especially if things are not going to plan.

“You feel like you have to say the kind of positive things that Walker was talking about and, even if you know you can do much better as a team, you just have to try to block out any negative reaction.

“Blocking out the noise about your performances is even more difficult now than it was during my England days because of social media and the increased scrutiny the players are under.

“Southgate has already spoken about it to his squad after the opening win over Serbia in Group C and explained how there are usually 20 Premier League teams to write or talk about, but now all eyes are on them.

“He’s right and, to deal with that, the players are better off staying off in the bubble inside the camp. I always did.

“Walker says he rarely reads the media or pays attention to what is being said on TV or radio, and I was exactly the same in his situation.

“I experienced the full force of it at Euro ’96. We had gone on a tour of the Far East a couple of weeks before the tournament started and there were some incidents, including the original ‘dentist’s chair’ escapade, that resulted in us getting a lot of stick in the media.

“So, we were under pressure because of that and, because we were hosts, there was also an expectation for us to perform on our own patch.

“We started the tournament slowly, with a 1-1 draw with Switzerland when we did not play particularly well. But any criticism we got for that did not affect us because we already had a siege mentality in the squad after the coverage we had received before a ball was kicked.

“Our manager Terry Venables dealt with it brilliantly to take the pressure off us and made sure that, inside the England camp, it was still a positive place to be.

“It is going to be down to Gareth Southgate to try to do the same in the coming days, because there is probably a barrage of criticism on the way.

“The manager is going to bear the brunt it, because we are not seeing these players perform the same way for England as they do every week for their clubs.

“I spoke after the game about John Stones and how, in two games at this tournament, we have not once seen him come out of defence with the ball or operate in midfield like he does all the time for Manchester City.

“Similarly, if you were listening to my co-commentary of the Denmark draw, you would have heard how frustrated I was that we are not seeing Declan Rice burst forward from midfield the way he does for Arsenal.

“Gareth is a bright guy, so he will know what is coming – he will also know that his job is to get the best out of his players, and he is not doing that at the moment.

“As individuals, they are not performing anywhere near how they can and should be. As a team, there was no aspect of what they did with or without the ball that was anywhere near good enough.

“We lacked energy, our pressing was not right – we did not seem to know who should go or when – and the balance was not right in midfield… the list goes on and on.

“There is a lot to work on, but course we still have to remember that things can turn very quickly in tournament football.

“That was the case for us in our second game at Euro ’96 when Scotland had a penalty saved at 1-0 and then we went up the other end and Paul Gascoigne produced that bit of magic – everything was different for us after that, and we really kicked on in our next game, against the Netherlands.

“This team needs a similar spark now too. They are definitely capable of finding it but, whether it is a moment in a game or a tactical switch that turns things round, it needs to happen very quickly.”

This is what fans are saying as Gareth Southgate baffles with his bizarre post-match comment and Alan Shearer rages after England struggle badly in the 1-1 draw with Denmark…

@AdamSalkie: Rice & Bellingham with Foden at 10. Surely one of Europe’s best midfields. I’m stunned.

@GingerPirlo_: A) Portugal have Cancelo at left back. He’s right footed. No one thinks it’s a problem. B) you’ve got Rice £100m player, Foden player of the season & Jude Bellingham not far off the Ballon D’or for midfield options to name a few. Maybe, just maybe, the job is too big for you.

@BurnsideNotTosh: YOU HAVE THE BEST MIDFIELDERS ENGLAND HAVE EVER HAD TO CHOOSE FROM. THE PROBLEM ISNT THE MIDFIELD GARETH.

@baahrichard5: If he can’t solve it then he should leave for someone to come and solve it

@bazza080808: Change the way you play.. adapt to the players you have!! Southgate confirming he’s a 1 dimensional manager who can’t change his ways even though he has some of the best attacking options England have ever had.

@SpankTheBookies: Not exactly a morale boost for Trippier is it saying we haven’t got our best left back available. He’s losing the plot with the stuff he’s coming out with. Always been out of his depth. We’ve never actually played well in a tournament under him. Even when we got to a final!

@munich_79: Can’t wait for him to go, no wonder the players look lost. If he doesn’t know how to solve problems in this set up the players won’t know either

@D91Mikey: He’s got Wharton, Mainoo and Gallagher sitting on the bench and other central midfielders like Curtis Jones and James Ward Prowse sat at home whilst he’s playing a right back in the middle of the park and complaining about a lack of options?

@Tom_Schoey: Pre tournament you said Wharton offers something we haven’t seen for 7 or 8 years. Fucking play him. You want to progress with the ball and give Rice a bit more freedom, he’s the fucking man to do it

@SFisher80: We literally pay this guy a fortune to do this stuff. He is admitting that he hasn’t done his job. We play so many friendlies and qualifiers to try players and he has the whole country to choose from. Embarrassingly inept

@B6Nigel: This interview confirms what a confused mind Southgate has. He can’t process the abundance of options he has, he inadvertently discloses he doesn’t know what the right midfield solution is. Something I think we all acknowledged two tournaments ago. This is not an elite manager.

@scottgrayyy: England have had some of the best midfielders in the world over the years. And currently have the best squad in the tournament. You are the problem ya dobber

@EstonianFBP: I think every fan in world football knows what England should do with their midfield. But the man who’s paid £5 million a year to pick it, doesn’t

@BallyJNR: You should’ve taken a natural left back then you twat, Mitchell from Palace had a great season and Ben Chilwell is fit. 99% of England fans could pick the right midfield combination Rice, Bellingham and Foden (10). Why is it that difficult?????

@saley1984: Can’t stand this geeza, no way he should have took us into this tournament. Should of left after Italy loss at Wembley but here we are 🤡

@Easters86: The biggest issue is his insistence on playing 2 defensive midfielders who spend the entire game marking our own back 4 and moving the ball too slowly.

@JHughes4196: So tried figuring out a problem since he first got the job, which he’s failed to do. Despite having the best midfield/attacking combo potentially in world football, it’s a problem because it doesn’t suit his negative borefest brand of football. He’s the problem. Get him OUT

@lukeeballard_: Blokes literally got two of the best young midfielders in the premier league in Mainoo & Wharton at his disposal but wants to experiment with a RB in there and says we’ve got a midfield issue 😂How about play your midfielder’s you absolute clown 🤣

@Lewis_King00: I don’t think I’ve despised someone this much for a long time… You’ve played a fading Jordan Henderson for the entirety of that period expecting different results… and you expected it to get better slap bang in the middle of a major tournament????

@ReubenRosso1: Worrying that two games into a major tournament and you’re hearing excuses as if England have just been knocked out. Sends the wrong messages to the players whether there are issues or not.

SEE MORE: James McClean rips into ‘OVERRATED’ ex-teammate Declan Rice, insisting he isn’t world class

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