Southgate insists England were EXCITING during 2-0 defeat by Belgium

Gareth Southgate insists England were EXCITING during 2-0 defeat by Belgium as he is forced to defend his tactics after being dumped of Nations League by Roberto Martinez’s men

  • Gareth Southgate insists England were ‘exciting to watch’ against Belgium
  • The Three Lions were beaten 2-0 by Roberto Martinez’s men on Sunday evening
  • The defeat means England can no longer reach the Nations League semi-finals 
  • Southgate’s since had to defend his tactics and maintains his side were exciting

Gareth Southgate believes his England side were ‘exciting to watch’ in the 2-0 defeat by Belgium on Sunday evening.

The disappointing defeat at the hands of Roberto Martinez’s men ended England’s hopes of reaching the Nations League semi-finals following two first-half goals from Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens.

Southgate’s tactics have since been questioned after he deployed a back-three against Belgium and against Ireland – a game they comfortably won 3-0 just days before.

Gareth Southgate insists England were ‘exciting to watch’ in their 2-0 defeat by Belgium

But while Southgate was unhappy with the result, he defended his tactics before claiming his team were easy on the eye against the Red Devils. 

‘I think we were very exciting to watch against Ireland and we were very exciting to watch against Belgium,’ Southgate said in his Tuesday press conference. 

‘Statistically, our job is to analyse games during and after them. There’s our coaching eye on how we played but then we look at the data and that’s as good a performance we’ve had against any of the big nations. 

‘There’s an interesting thing is that there is a perception we didn’t start the game well in the first half an hour – we had more attempts on goal that Belgium, they had a tiny bit more possession, but we had more of the dangerous attacks and more shots on goal. 

Youri Tielemans broke the deadlock early on in the first half for Roberto Martinez’s side

Dries Mertens (left) then scored a brilliant free-kick 24 minutes in to double the hosts’ lead

‘That performance was an actual contrast to Spain that everyone is talking about – that was our worst performance, statistically. There were other things we did brilliantly that night – we played with great endeavour and counter-attacked really well. 

‘But the perception of that game is not the reality. So when coaching the team, if you perform to those levels every week, you’ll lose games. If we perform to the levels we did against Belgium, we’ll win games.’

The defeat against Belgium was Southgate’s 10th from 48 games in charge, the same number as Sven-Goran Erikssen, who presided over 67 matches.

There have been calls to have Southgate replaced as manager of the national side but the ex-Middlesbrough boss remains focused on the task at hand.

The result ended England’s hopes of reaching the Nations League semi-finals

‘It’s a fascinating debate that the perception, especially after a defeat, creates a narrative and there’s always a story whichever way we play,’ he added. ‘There will always be strengths and weaknesses to the team so we’ve got to find the best parts and improving it.

‘I think we’ve seen it can be a system that has flexibility and can be adaptable, while different players in different position can change it. So we’ll get to the end of this camp and review everything by the end of March.’ 

Southgate is preparing his side for a dead-rubber game that many people said should not go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the England boss defended the current international break.

He added: ‘To represent your country is the greatest honour. Of course, club football is important but every player wants to represent your country.

The defeat against Belgium was Southgate’s 10th from 48 games in charge of the Three Lions

‘You don’t get the chance to do it very often, although it has been complicated this year, we have tried to manage that the best we can.

‘No player has started more than five matches, we have played seven. We are representing 50 million people and we are trying to prepare for the European Championship.

‘Add into that, players want to play, they want to win caps, score goals. We are trying to manage it as best we can.’




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