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27th Sep 2022

Gareth Southgate says England team held players-only meeting after Italy defeat

Simon Lloyd

Southgate praised his players for taking it upon themselves to call the meeting

Gareth Southgate says that England’s squad held a players-only meeting after their Nations League defeat to Italy last week in an attempt to help turn around their recent poor form.

The 1-0 loss in Milan saw the Three Lions relegated from their Nations League group. On Monday night they drew 3-3 with Germany at Wembley, fighting back from 2-0 down to take a 3-2 lead before a late Kai Havertz equaliser for the visitors.

The result extends England’s winless streak to six games heading into the World Cup in November, but, speaking after the game, Southgate appeared happy with the spirit shown by his team, adding that he was particularly pleased that they had taken it upon themselves to stage the meeting.

“They asked could they have a meeting on their own to talk things through,” he said. “I think, for me, that was a positive sign. By the way, there are moments at some clubs where that’s not a good sign. But they talked through what they wanted to do.

“For me, the best football teams of course need outstanding leadership from the coaching team and everything else but the best teams have a real core of players that drive things.

“There’s more of those sorts of conversations go on across the week where they are eating, where they are having treatment, where they are interacting where you can’t be involved as staff.

“To have the right sort of messages filtering through to all members of the group to keep people on track is crucial. That’s one example of how we dealt with it well.”

southgate england players meeting

Southgate continued: “We’ve got players who have experienced moments like this with England but not so many now, which is why I think they are all learning together. In those moments, it’s why we’ve got to stick to what we are doing.

“Of course we have to improve in certain areas, but we weren’t going to rip things up tonight and make eight changes and start throwing everything up in the air because we believe in what we are doing, whether people agree with it or not.

“I think we’ve got to stick with what we believe. The players took that on board and the senior ones recognised that actually we are only a few months away from the World Cup. I have to say, we’ve been hoping that type of thing would happen.

“You can talk about team spirit when things are going well, but in actual fact the true test is when there is a bit of adversity because it can be a bit superficial.

“Having difficult conversations, whether that’s me with the players and the team or amongst themselves, that’s far more important.”

England play their first World Cup group game against Iran on November 21. They play the United States four days later before concluding the group with a game against Wales on November 29.

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