Gareth Southgate is ready for the volume to be turned up a notch in this ‘tournament of outside noise’ after stuttering England were held to a 0-0 draw by the United States.
Expectations were high after kicking off the World Cup with a 6-2 defeat to Iran, only to be confronted with reality in Friday’s fixture in Al Khor.
Christian Pulisic shook the bar in the first half when Gregg Berhalter’s USA side threatened to cause an upset against an England side who created little during the 90 minutes.
The goalless draw meant that Southgate’s side squandered the opportunity to wrap up progress into the knockout stages with a game to spare, resulting in loud boos echoing around Al Bayt Stadium at the final whistle.
“Were we booed, though? I’m not sure if he was addressing us or… I don’t know,” said the England manager.
“Look, I’m really happy with the players’ application. He was a really tough opponent, they defended incredibly well.
“Yes, we lacked a bit of speed and quality in the last third, and we weren’t able to open up and create really good chances.
“But we had to show another side of ourselves in terms of resilience off the ball, stealing runs, defending our box well, defending corners and set pieces that went in.
“To be a successful team in a tournament you have to show those different faces and I think we did that tonight.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of noise about the performance, but there aren’t many teams that get past the World Cup and get nine points in the group.
“We are in a good position, we still have a bit to do to qualify, but we also have the opportunity to win the group.
“The players were very down and disappointed after the game but I told them it won’t be like that in the next few days because I thought they showed another side of who they are.
“And it will be important to move forward.”
Performance and selection decisions will be scrutinized in detail over the next few days, but England remain in control of their destiny.
They sit top of Group B ahead of Tuesday’s fixture with neighbors Wales and know progress is assured as long as they avoid a 4-0 defeat.
“Look, of course I want our fans to go home happy and our fans at home to have smiles on their faces, so we just fell short of that today,” said the former England defender Southgate.
“But people will react the way they react. I can’t let that affect how I feel about the team or the team.
“The goal is to qualify. We have three games to do that and I imagine most teams in the competition will take three games to do that.
“And we must remain calm in these moments. We have already participated in tournaments. I have been a player and a coach.
“We’ve had a unique thing about going through in the last two games out of two, partly because three teams go through in the European Championships, so it’s not a realistic thing anyway.
“This is the tournament of external noise. We’ve added another layer to that, I’m sure.
“But we’re on the right track, a little to do, we can still win the group. This must be our goal.