Erik Ten Hag Critical Of Southgate's Tactics After Uninspiring Serbia Win

Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate, Manager of England men's senior team, looks on during a training session at Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre on June 06, 2024 in London, England. 

England got their UEFA Euro 2024 campaign underway on Sunday night with an uninspiring 1-0 win over Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, with Erik Ten Hag having choice words for England boss Gareth Southgate's tactical set up afterwards.

A header in the 13th minute from Jude Bellingham proved to be enough for Southgate's side to get the three points.

However it was a not plain sailing for the English, with Serbia pushing the 3 Lions until the final whistle and arguably unfortunate not to find an equaliser.

While the reaction to the result in England was broadly positive, there's been more measured reaction elsewhere. A good chunk of criticism came Southgate's way for the way England were set up, especially after taking the early lead.

One interested onlooker was Manchester United boss Erik Ten Hag, with the Dutchman in particular being unimpressed by England's defensive style.

Ten Hag was doing punditry for Dutch broadcaster NOS for the game, and he described the English performance as "passive" due to the England bosses footballing vision.

Erik Ten Hag: "England were playing very passive"

Speaking on England's performance, Ten Hag started by praising Jude Bellingham's first half performance and his ability to lift his team when they need it.

In the first half I really enjoyed Jude Bellingham. He took England by the hand and lifted them to a higher level."

Ten Hag then moved on to England's second-half performance, where he criticised Southgate's footballing vision and his 3 Lions passive style.

England were playing very passive. I actually saw them moving backwards, they kept Serbia coming at them.

"It's the vision of the manager (Southgate). England will take a 1-0 lead, then he (Southgate) decides to start gambling with making his team compact and relying on moments for the remaining minutes of the game."

It's interesting analysis, especially considering Southgate was one of the managers on Manchester United's shortlist to replace Ten Hag. Ultimately it was decided by the Manchester United board that they should keep Ten Hag with new contract negotiations underway.

Ten Hag also confirmed that Man United spoke to Thomas Tuchel before deciding on sticking with the Dutchman.

England play Denmark in Frankfurt in their next game on Thursday, with kick-off scheduled for 5pm. RTÉ2 will be broadcasting the match with coverage from 4:30pm.

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