Photography: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
An emotional Gareth Southgate has said he needs time to make up his mind about his future after Harry Kane conceded a heart penalty during England’s quarter-final defeat to France.
England’s World Cup hopes came to a tearful end after Kane, who had already scored an equalizer from the penalty spot, lunged from 12 yards when he had a chance to make it 2-2 during the closing stages at Al Bayt Stadium.
The captain’s mistake ensured that France, who won thanks to goals from Aurélien Tchouaméni and Olivier Giroud, will face Morocco in the semi-finals and the result has raised questions over whether Southgate will remain in charge after six years’ service.
Related: England fall again in the last knockout but emerge from the World Cup with pride intact
The coach, whose contract runs until December 2024 and is taking part in that year’s European championship in Germany, cut a deflated figure after overseeing a near-miss for the third tournament in a row. The Football Association do not want to lose Southgate and are hoping to persuade him to stay, but could leave after indicating he may not have the energy to lead England to Euro 2024 qualifying.
“I think every time I’ve finished these tournaments I’ve needed time to make the right decisions because emotionally you have so many different feelings and the energy that goes into these tournaments is huge,” said Southgate.
“I want to make the right decision, whenever it is, for the team, for England, for the FA, and I have to make sure whatever decision I make is the right one. I think it’s right to take some time to do it because I know in the past how my feelings have changed immediately after tournaments.”
Defeat to France in Al Khor means England have lost seven World Cup quarter-finals, having reached the final only four times: in 1966, when they lifted the trophy, and in 1990 and 2018.
1954: 4-2 defeat by Uruguay Nat Lofthouse and Tom Finney scored for England, but the holders punished Gil Merrick’s goalkeeper mistakes in Switzerland
1958: 3-1 loss against Brazil Pelé’s absence gave England hope in Chile, but Garrincha’s two goals helped the eventual champions through
1970: 3-2 defeat by West Germany Alf Ramsey’s side let slip a two-goal lead when Gerd Müller scored in extra time to end their English title defense
1986: 2-1 loss against Argentina Diego Maradona followed up the ‘Hand of God’ with one of the greatest solo goals ever as Argentina win
2002: 2-1 loss against Brazil Michael Owen puts England in front, but Rivaldo equalizer and Ronaldinho’s long lob turn the tide
2006: defeat on penalties against Portugal after a 0-0 draw Wayne Rooney was sent off because England’s golden generation fell short
2022: 2-1 defeat against France After falling short in the quarter-finals in South Africa and Brazil, and outscored in Russia, England suffer a seventh elimination in the quarter-final against the defending champions
England’s qualifying campaign for the European Championships begins in March and Southgate was asked whether continuing to coach young stars such as Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka would enter his mind when discussing his job with the FA.
“Sure,” he said. “We’ve always wanted to develop a group that can sustain the types of tournaments we’ve had. We are continuing to do this. It’s more the decisions surrounding it. It takes a lot of energy to start again. You have to make sure you are ready for it. There’s too much on my mind to think logically tonight. We wanted to win. We fell short tonight.
Kane, who said he would take his missed penalty “on the chin”, offered Southgate his support. “I think we have a really bright future,” said the striker. “We like having Gareth as manager. We want him to stay for sure, but this is his decision ”.
Southgate defended Kane, who would have broken Wayne Rooney’s record of 53 goals for England had he converted his second penalty. “As you’d expect, it’s very short,” he said. «But he has nothing to reproach himself for.
“We are in the position we are as a team because of his leadership, because of his goals over a long period of time. Tonight the result is the result of 100 minutes of football.”
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England responded brilliantly after falling behind to Tchouaméni’s first goal. They progressed under Southgate, who took them to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2020.
Southgate has made clear he is proud of his team despite their latest disappointment. “They showed the balls to go toe to toe with a great team,” he said. “Obviously we weren’t perfect and there were mistakes from both sides which decided the match. But I think we have shown that the state of English football is healthy. We have some excellent players. Not just for now but for the future.”