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Gareth Southgate understands England boos at Wembley after Iceland loss: We did not press well enough | Football News

SportsGareth Southgate understands England boos at Wembley after Iceland loss: We did not press well enough | Football News

England manager Gareth Southgate said he understood the boos that greeted his side’s 1-0 loss to Iceland at Wembley, acknowledging his side did not play well enough in their final warm-up game before Euro 2024.

The home side went down to Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson’s well-taken early strike, struggling to create many clear-cut openings themselves, with the full-time whistle being met with a chorus of boos from the home faithful.

However, Southgate – who drew level with Sir Bobby Robson after taking charge of his 95th England game – said he could understand the home fans’ frustrations at the end of the game.

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Sky Sports News’ Ron Walker and Rob Dorsett reflect on England’s defeat to Iceland and what it could mean ahead of the Euros

“I completely understand [the boos],” he said after the match. “We didn’t play well enough to keep them excited within the game. We had some very, very good chances which normally would be finished and would’ve given a different complexion to the game and affected our opponent’s confidence.

“But that might have also masked some flaws which were apparent tonight. From my perspective, I’ve learned a lot from the game. But I’ve got no qualms with the supporters’ reaction, to have them with you here makes a massive difference but you have to give them enough goalmouth action, play well enough, press and win the ball with intensity – and we didn’t do that tonight. We have to accept the reaction as it was.”

One area of real worry for Southgate, though, was his side’s pressing, or lack of, during the game.

Harry Kane
A dejected Harry Kane at the full-time whistle

“We didn’t get our pressing right and we were too stretched without the ball. There were questions asked that we weren’t able to answer,” he said.

“No matter how much talent you have with the ball, if you’re out-of-possession game isn’t right, it can make it feel like you’ve not got a foothold in the game.”

Southgate, however, urged everyone to stay calm ahead of the tournament, which England depart for on Monday morning, predicting his side would produce an improved display when they begin Group C proceedings against Serbia a week on Sunday.

“I’m confident we’ll be better than we were tonight,” he said. “We’re managing so many different things through the game, and we ended up with a relatively young team on the pitch, some of whom we would’ve got off physically as well. It was a game where we made six subs, but we would have liked to have made more because some of the players could’ve done with getting out of the game a little bit earlier as well.”

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The Times’ Martin Hardy analyses England’s performance against Iceland and identifies which areas Gareth Southgate might need to focus on

However, Southgate did concede England were heading to Germany with a number of injury worries still to contend with.

“The physical side is a slight concern, we’ve got so many physical issues, but as I said we needed to get players out of the game on a precautionary level as well,” he added. “That part of it will be better for next Sunday.

“We’re focusing on all aspects, really, but we can’t hide the fact we have got a lot of physical issues, it’s plain for everyone to see.

“Nevertheless, we can be better than we were tonight and we have to be more compact, press better, and then take the chances we created.

“We can resolve that, it’s a good opportunity to get on the training pitch, remind ourselves of what’s important in terms of winning football matches, and if the intensity isn’t right without the ball, it can cause you a lot of problems with it too.”

On a more positive note, though, the England manager did confirm key centre-back John Stones’ ankle injury, which forced the defender off at half-time, was not too problematic.

“We think he is probably OK, but we didn’t want to take a chance given what’s coming up,” he said.

Rice: Inside I’m hurting at defeat

England midfielder Declan Rice to Channel 4:

Declan Rice shows his dejection after the loss to Iceland
Declan Rice shows his dejection after the loss to Iceland

“Very frustrating. To have that much of the ball, with a couple of clear-cut chances, and get beaten 1-0 at home just before the Euros isn’t ideal.

“But I’m going to take the positives from it as well. There were a lot of positive performances tonight. I felt we played with a good tempo, always tried to play forward, be more attacking, be a threat.

“In the end it becomes a frustration game. You’re chasing your tail a little bit. You can likely get caught on the counter-attack. That’s where we have to be a little bit more savvy.

“It’s not ideal that we lost but there are also some good learning curves from tonight that we can build on as a team.

“Maybe against the teams that sit in like that, it’s about being a bit more mentally switched-on.

“I felt like at times tonight we were a bit exposed with our press, a little bit stretched and not as compact as we usually are.

“But these are good things to look back on. We’re going to learn from it tonight. Now I’m speaking but inside I’m hurting.

“Between now and the next game, there is work to be done and I’m ready to go for the tournament. We all want to put things right.”

‘Hammer blow to England’s confidence levels’

Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett at Wembley Stadium:

Gareth Southgate pictured alongside Kobbie Mainoo at Wembley
Gareth Southgate alongside Kobbie Mainoo at Wembley

“That’s a hammer blow to England’s confidence levels, going in to the Euros. Beaten at home, in a fixture billed as the big Euros send-off, by a team ranked 72nd in the world.

“There is mitigation, which Southgate will no doubt point to – injuries [losing John Stones at half time], many players building up fitness levels after injury or a lack of recent training [Saka, Gordon, Foden, Trippier, Walker, Mainoo].

“But make no mistake, this was a wake-up call for England and their fans, who dared to believe the hype of England being favourites to win the trophy.

“The boos at full-time were deafening – even though many of the supporters had already left. Defeat in a friendly is hardly fatal. But the number of worrying issues for Southgate to address, before England begin their tournament in nine days’ time – that is a major concern .”

The key dates for England

All times BST

Monday June 10 – England squad fly to Germany

Sunday June 16 – Serbia vs England, Gelsenkirchen, kick-off 8pm

Thursday June 20 – Denmark vs England, Frankfurt, kick-off 5pm

Tuesday June 25 – England vs Slovenia, kick-off 8pm

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