Jurgen Klinsmann: Gareth Southgate deserves respect for fronting up and taking flak… it shows England boss’ strength

I REALLY admire the way ­Gareth Southgate is fronting up and taking the flak for his England team.

After the 0-0 draw with Slovenia, a second consecutive frustrating and disappointing performance, he could have gone straight to the locker room and yelled and got angry with the world.

Gareth Southgate applauds the England fans


Gareth Southgate applauds the England fansCredit: Getty

Instead he went over to the England fans, even though he knew they were far from happy.

He confronted the situation and he thanked them for their support.

Even though a few of them threw plastic beer glasses at him, many more will have appreciated that gesture.

That shows Gareth’s strength of character. Deflecting criticism from your players is part of a manager’s job — especially during a tournament.


Everyone prefers compliments to boos. We’re all human beings. But when that criticism comes, you need broad shoulders.

Gareth has that, as a seasoned tournament manager.

Like Gareth, I’ve lived through many major tournaments as a player and a manager.


They have a unique intensity and that intensity is what you live for I love tournaments for precisely those sorts of moments.

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Every fan is so pumped up for tournaments that they expect you to go out and play the other team out of the stadium, scoring three or four goals, but it so rarely happens.

You have to make sure everyone in the group from the bus driver to the press officer to the centre-forward is united in belief.

You and your fellow coaches have to make sure you develop a fighting environment within the group.

It’s not a ‘siege mentality’. That’s too negative. Gareth knows the world is not against him and his team.

It’s about confronting negative moments, regrouping and getting fired up for the next opponents.

Sure, England haven’t played well in their last two matches but they have topped the group and the draw has been kind to them.

I am sure they will beat Slovakia on Sunday and then as soon as you’ve won a knockout game, the whole nation begins to hope and there is more unity.

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After the group stage, it is reboot time. It’s like a new tournament.

Against Slovenia, England had so little space but I was in Los Angeles earlier this week to see Brazil v Costa Rica in the Copa America and that was very similar.

It ended as a 0-0 draw in which Costa Rica parked the bus and cramped out the Brazilians.

In the group stages of tournaments many ‘smaller’ teams will play this way.

They will sacrifice everything to defend their goal and rely on the occasional counter-attack.

If you cannot unlock that packed defence, it is a nightmare. Unless you can score that damned first goal, it is hugely frustrating for players, coaches and fans.

It’s not just England who have struggled. France and Belgium have struggled, too, and hosts Germany suffered badly before they drew with Switzerland.

In the knockout stage, it is different. Even defensive-minded teams have to come out of their shells.

Trying to defend for 120 minutes in the hope of penalties is just not sustainable.

When games open up, England can thrive and a positive vibe can return.

It is hard for supporters of England, Germany and France to swallow but the so-called lesser teams can make life really miserable for you.

But tournaments are all about winning ­­— and if you win one, few people tend to remember how you won it.

There are countless examples but I always remember Italy at the 2006 World Cup — who beat my Germany side in extra-time in the semi-finals and beat France on penalties in the final.

The Italians should have lost to Australia in the round of 16, as the Aussies were denied a clear penalty, and they scored 70 per cent of their goals in that tournament from set-pieces.

Southgate has made strange decisions… he should have brought Henderson and Maguire, write Charlie Wyett

IN the space of a week, we seem to have lost the Gareth Southgate who brought the feel-good factor back to English football, writes Charlie Wyett.

Here is a man who now looks battered and bruised from the fierce criticism he has received not only back home but also from a couple of former England players.

We live in a world where too many pundits are cheerleaders and while Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer were correct in their evaluation of the Three Lions after the 1-1 draw with Denmark, it has nevertheless gone down badly with Southgate.

The manager says he is on a mission to protect his players from all the s*** that is flying around but he must also ensure he does not lose focus.

In his eight years as England manager, he had never appeared so chilled going into the opening two games.

The mood was upbeat around the team’s Euro base in Blankenhain. Southgate was in good humour during all of his media duties.

Here was a man confident in the knowledge he had a group of players capable of winning Euro 2024.

But in the fall-out of the two draws against Denmark and Slovenia, his mood has darkened spectacularly. He has had some tough spells but none like this.

One of the 53-year-old’s big strengths has been the ability to tap into each and every England fan and create positivity.

No supporter will ever forget the summer of 2018 when they finally fell in love with the England football team.

Yet Southgate knows he has lost the trust of virtually the entire English supporting public.

He suffered abuse and ridicule after England lost 4-0 to Hungary in the Nations League in 2022 but this is at a different level.

Southgate is acutely aware how the whole mood of the nation has changed.

Over these last few weeks, Southgate has made some strange decisions.

It was a mistake to take Luke Shaw as his sole left-footed defender and only now is he anywhere near to being fit.

Marc Guehi has been England’s best player over the three matches so far but Ezri Konsa and Lewis Dunk are not ideal back-ups.

Southgate should have picked either Harry Maguire, despite his short-term injury issues, or Bayern Munich’s Eric Dier.

Jordan Henderson — despite not having a great end to the season with Ajax — should have been included as he would have had a month to get up speed in terms of sharpness.

Even if he was not ready to start, he is a winner  — as he proved with Liverpool — and he would have been a steady,  experienced influence in the dressing room. As for Southgate’s team selections, the Trent Alexander-Arnold experiment did not work.

Neither did putting Conor Gallagher next to Declan Rice against Slovenia.

Although Marcus Rashford and James Maddison could not have too many complaints over missing out, Jack Grealish should have been included even if it was to come off the bench.

Southgate went too far with his mixing and matching. Now, he is left with a squad lacking balance but equally, one which could go deep into this tournament.

Southgate needs his big players like Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane and Phil Foden to play without fear.

Those same players need Southgate to try not to be affected by public opinion, even if this includes some of his mates.

Also, Southgate needs to get all of his team selections right. And maybe then, he will leave the England job on a high.

Read all of Charlie Wyett’s Euro 2024 articles.

But they ended up as world champions. he; Do you think anyone in Italy cared how they achieved it?

England have the potential to be a much more expansive team than that.

Jude Bellingham has had a couple of quiet games but I would rather that happened in the group stages than the knockouts.

He is a game changer who can conjure something to win a match in a split second. He can explode in the knockout stages.

It’s certainly true that, with France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Belgium all in the other half of the draw, England have the better of it.

But do not underestimate Switzerland, who England could meet in the quarter-final, or Austria, a potential semi-final opponent.
Those two teams have seriously impressed me.


They show that even without many world-class players, a team with the right chemistry and togetherness can go a long way.

Those really are two teams to watch but England will know they have a genuine chance of making the final, however frustrating things have been until now.