Much respect to Gareth Southgate after his poignant post-match interview 3 months ago

Much respect to Gareth Southgate after his poignant post-match interview

"I can't change that. So that's always going to hurt."

Gareth Southgate must have known the question was coming.

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All week - no, all tournament - the England manager has been accused by fans and some of the media of being too cautious in his Euro 2020 team selections.

Again, when his team was announced for the last-16 meeting with Germany on Tuesday, the same complaints began to surface. No Jack Grealish. No Phil Foden. No Mason Mount. No Jadon Sancho. All on the bench.

By full-time, though, Southgate had been vindicated. With the hame evenly balanced until the later stages, Grealish was eventually introduced and played a part in both of England's goals - scored by Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane.

A place in the quarter finals secured, he was asked by the BBC about whether his "cautious" tactics had actually proven to be a masterplan.

"You change the shape, you pick certain personnel instead of others and if it goes wrong, you're dead." he said.

"We had to go about it in the way we believed. We wanted aggressive pressure all over the field. We felt that to match them up was the way of doing that. We felt that speed in behind Harry [Kane] could cause them a problem. I thought Bukayo [Saka] and Raheem [Sterling] really created that jeopardy in their backline."

He added: "The whole team defended incredibly throughout. It was a fabulous performance and I can't give enough credit."

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The final question of Southgate's interview reflected on Euro 96, and touched on his penalty shoot-out miss.

Now that he had managed a side that may have helped exorcise some of the ghosts from that semi-final loss to Germany, 25 years ago, Southgate was asked how much the result meant.

"I was looking at the big screen and I saw [former England teammate] Dave Seaman up there... for the teammates that played with me, I can't change that. So that's always going to hurt.

"But what's lovely is, we've given people another day to remember. And now we've got to do it again in Rome."

One can tell how heavily that miss at Euro 96 weighed on Southgate, and has never truly left him.

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Winning the European Championship at Wembley, in 11 days' time, may finally put all such negative thoughts to bed.


 

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