England coach Southgate targeted after 0-0 draw with Slovenia at Euro 2024

 

Phil Foden of England
Phil Foden of England interacts with Gareth Southgate, Head Coach of England, as he leaves the field after being replaced by substitute Anthony Gordon (not pictured) during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between England and Slovenia at Cologne Stadium on June 25, 2024 in Cologne, Germany.

Top of the group, unbeaten and on the favorable side of the draw for the knockout phase of Euro 2024. It’s a case of job done for England.


Try telling that to the fans who jeered loudly and threw beer cups as the final whistle blew on a 0-0 draw with Slovenia at Cologne Stadium on Tuesday.


Criticism of England’s performances in Germany has been fierce.


“I’ve not seen any team qualify and receive similar,” manager Gareth Southgate said.


He believes he and his England team could be paying the price for its success under his leadership. And safe passage through to the round of 16 maintains his personal record of advancing from the group stage of every major tournament he’s taken charge of, dating back to the World Cup in 2018.


“I think probably expectation (is different). We’ve made England over the last six or seven years fun again. I think it has been enjoyable for the players,” Southgate said. “We’ve got to be very, very careful that it stays that way.”


England hasn’t been fun to watch at these Euros with a 1-0 win against Serbia its only victory in Group C. That was followed by a 1-1 draw with Denmark and the 0-0 with Slovenia.


Its performance against Denmark was so uninspired that former captain and now BBC presenter Gary Lineker used an expletive to describe it. And Southgate’s team will likely need a sharp upturn in form if it is to live up to its pre-tournament billing as one of the favorites to be crowned European champion.


Still, it can look forward to the knock out phase with a certain degree of optimism having ended up on the opposite side of the draw to Spain, France, Germany and Portugal after advancing as group winner.


“That was the aim before the start of the tournament. Come top of the group and control our destiny,” captain Harry Kane said. “I thought we played a lot better than the other two games. We just couldn’t find that final finish.”


The result also saw Slovenia reach the round of 16 for the first time and Croatia was eliminated.


“We are such a small country, with such a big heart and mental strength. That’s why I’m very proud of my team,” coach Matjaz Kek said. “This is only the beginning for a new and beautiful era for Slovenian football.”


While it was a proud night for Slovenians, it was another performance that highlighted England’s problems.


In a game of few chances, substitute Cole Palmer could have sealed the win in stoppage time, but his shot was saved by Slovenia goalkeeper Jan Oblak.


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Again England looked short of ideas and could have gone behind early on when Benjamin Sesko had a free header from inside the box.


Bukayo Saka had a first-half goal ruled out for offside and other than Palmer’s late chance, England rarely looked like finding a winner.


“You can’t go into every game with such pressure and score four goals. Football doesn’t work like that,” Southgate said. “It is important to win the group to control your own destiny.”


A masked Kylian Mbappé scored his first goal of the Euros, but France drew 1-1 with Poland to finish runner-up in Group D behind Austria, which beat the Netherlands 3-2.


Mbappé wore a protective mask after breaking his nose in France’s opening game against Austria and scored from the penalty spot. But Robert Lewandowski’s twice-taken spot kick gave already eliminated Poland its first point of the tournament.

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