Gareth Southgate says England must be “completely ruthless” from now on as World Cup preparations intensify following June’s humiliating Nations League results.
England are in Milan to take on Euro 2020 final opponents Italy on Friday night, knowing defeat will see them relegated from the Nations League top tier.
It would be an embarrassing moment and another tough hurdle in the road for one of the World Cup favorites in his penultimate game before the tournament.
Southgate’s side are determined to get back to winning ways on Friday as they return to action for the first time since some fans clamored for the manager’s header in the humiliating 4-0 home loss to New Zealand. Hungary.
“Well, the individual part is not important,” the England boss said of the stick he faced. “We analyzed everything, every department.
“I think when you win… we were on a run before this summer of 22 games without losing and you maybe don’t analyze wins as intensely as you analyze losses.
“That’s probably not the right approach actually.
“But I felt I had compromised some decisions internally, and you don’t win if you compromise.
“It was good for me to hone that focus again because we have to be completely ruthless in what we get into and I have to create an environment for the players that allows them to excel.
“And to provide them with the best platform to be at the level where they have been for five or six years.”
When asked what the trade-offs were, Southgate replied, “No, because these are internal things that we work on as a team, so it doesn’t need to be public.”
Defeats to Hungary ended a miserable four-game streak in June, with the 1-0 defeat in Budapest followed by draws in Germany and behind closed doors against the Azzurri.
But Molineux’s 4-0 maiming was the blow that leaves them at a crossroads with the World Cup just 60 days away.
“I’m not really sure it’s a question of form because when you’re in an international environment there are so many weeks and months between games that you start from scratch every time, really,” said Southgate.
“There have been so many circumstances this summer with, first of all, high quality games, high quality opponents, but also the need to take care of some of our great players.
“I think every nation has done that. Speaking with the managers of Denmark, Belgium and France over the summer, they all found it difficult as they are all thinking about the World Cup as well.
“Also the players we wanted to see more of because there are no friendlies after that, which you would normally have for a tournament.
“Two games behind closed doors, so a number of reasons but also we thought about it and dissected it all as a group of staff.
“When you’ve been through (difficult) times as a manager, which I have, it helps you because you have real clarity on what needs to happen and how to get through those times.
“Also, I think if we came out of those games wondering why things didn’t go so well, then that would be more concerning.
“But we knew exactly the reasons and it’s a challenge for us as a group of staff and ultimately for us to put that challenge on the players to respond.
“We know the level of performance has to be incredibly high to achieve what we want to achieve in the World Cup.”
John Stones’ red card against Hungary means he is suspended for the trip to San Siro.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson came into the squad through an injury to Kalvin Phillips but Southgate said the plan was still for him to be involved against Germany on Monday rather than Italy .
“Big tests for us, big games to go to first,” Southgate said of the Group A3 double-header.
“We are playing two of the strongest footballing nations in history in two of the most iconic stadiums you can play in, so good tests for us.
“Of course we want to improve our performance from the summer and leave camp feeling good before the World Cup.
“Coming here and playing against Italy in Milan is a great opportunity to do that.”