Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I Don't Want to Grind out Results; Mistakes Were Concern but Southgate's Upbeat

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I Don't Want to Grind out Results; Mistakes Were Concern but Southgate's Upbeat

Article excerpt

GARETH Southgate wants England to cut out the mistakes as he will never be satisfied with grinding out results.

Two weeks on from the end of Sam Allardyce's 67-day reign, interim manager Southgate led the Three Lions to Ljubljana for a match far tougher than the hosts' 67th position in the world rankings would suggest.

Slovenia pressed with intensity from the outset and regularly threatened to inflict England's first qualifying defeat in seven years, with only Joe Hart's virtuoso display and some good fortune securing a 0-0 draw.

Southgate's side looked cumbersome for large chunks and failed to muster a shot on target in the first half, with their mistakes in possession just as worrying.

"I don't want to be a team that grinds things out," the interim boss (pictured right) said, having only beaten Malta 2-0 on Saturday.

"I think we want the team to pass the ball and at times tonight I think they found that difficult on the surface.

"Both teams, there was lots of turnovers because of the pitch.

"And in asking them to play that way, there's a danger there will be mistakes and there were probably more of them tonight than we would want.

"I think - what are my expectations of how much they can take on in five days or five training sessions? You know, I've got to be realistic about the impact we can have.

"But what I would say is they showed signs of trying to play the way we want to. They've played at times with some tactical discipline.

"I thought tonight the mistakes were a concern because you can't afford those sort of mistakes at this level.

"But it's difficult to judge how hard to go in when you've only had them for such a short period of time and a lot of them are as inexperienced as they are.

"I've got to balance setting the challenge right for them as the team, demanding as much as possible, but also being realistic about how quickly we can adapt to a style of play."

Adapting to a philosophy is one thing, freezing when the going gets tough is another.

Anxiety cost England as much as anything in the embarrassing Euro 2016 exit to Iceland, but Southgate was reluctant to say Tuesday's display showed any hangover from that. …

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