Sport

Raised England expectations don't scare me, says Gareth Southgate

Raised England expectations don't scare me, says Gareth Southgate

England lost 2-1 to Croatia after the game went to extra time in Russian Federation, and the team will have to play Belgium in the third-place play off on Saturday.

England are now ranked joint 12th in the official Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings alongside Denmark but their run in Russia should see that position improve. "They did an very bad lot better than I ever did, or we ever did", he added. Little was expected from England in Russian Federation, but they have overachieved by going so far and Southgate is the man credited with the turnaround in fortunes. We saw it the other night against England, where Modric was still running the game late on and showing little signs of fatigue. We want to finish a great tournament on a high.

"We did talk to them [the players] about that before, but I think it was hard for them to really get it, majority weren't born in 1990 and they were too young for '96".

"They coped brilliantly with all of that".

But while Southgate will assess the fitness levels of his players, he does not want to deviate too far from what has become a settled line-up. We've raised expectation because we've also raised belief.

"They did not look like a side who were playing extra time for a third time in a row. There's an energy and connection that's back".

She said the current set of players had surpassed the achievements of the team that finished third at the 1998 World Cup in France.

"There is a lot of motivation for us and Belgium have already beaten us, so we would like to address that as well". We want to be challenging for semi-finals and finals. "And then you have to counteract that with how many good ones and how many you might do differently".

Asked if Southgate was in line for a knighthood, the PM's spokeswoman said: "In terms of honours, and things like that, there is an independent robust process for how that system works, so I can't speculate about that".

"It's not actually my decision, but I agree with it. I couldn't have done the last few weeks like I've been the last two days".

"The support we've had from home is enormous. There's a long way for us to go". The country has united behind football.

However, now they have been dumped out, some fans are feeling that all so familiar sense of disappointment in the national team, who have only ever reached one final of a major tournament, and that was back in 1966.

"But if we had a parade that would have been one part of the country and we represent the whole country as well".

"We're proud and we hope that, come our matches in September, that warm feeling about worldwide football will be there again".


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