Southgate proud of England but it will take time to decide the future

Gareth Southgate will take his time “making the right decision” regarding his future as England manager, but he was encouraged by the way his young side faced France on Saturday.

England were the better side for long spells at Al Bayt but ultimately fell short as Olivier Giroud’s 78th-minute header proved decisive as Les Bleus claimed victory by 2 -1 and organized the semifinal against Morocco on Wednesday.

Southgate’s contract runs until the end of the European Championship in 2024, but he will use the next few weeks to reflect on whether he wants to continue.

He said: “Every time I finished these tournaments I needed time to make the right decision because you have so many sensations.

“I want to make the right decision, whatever it is for the team, for England and for the Football Association. It’s right to take the time to do it because I know how my feelings have changed immediately after previous tournaments.

“It’s the decision to restart, there’s a lot of energy and you have to make sure you’re ready for it. There’s European Qualifiers in March and there’s too much on my mind to think about it tonight.

“I wanted to concentrate on this tournament and I think we gave a very good impression of ourselves. But in the end only one team wins and we didn’t measure up.”

Southgate led England to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia four years ago and to the final of Euro 2020, yet his critics continued to accuse him of playing badly.

That was certainly not the case in Qatar, with no team scoring more than England’s nine group stage goals before their 3-0 round of 16 win over Senegal.

And against France, England played forefoot football that unsettled the defending champions throughout.

Southgate added: “I think it’s the best we’ve played against a big nation in my time in charge, but the result is all that matters.

“They know how close they’ve come. They know they’ve pushed a top nation all the way. We’ve had more ball possession, more shots on target… I’m very proud of how they’ve been, not just tonight but throughout the tournament.

“We showed a different face in terms of how we played. We wanted to go face-to-face with the best nations, that’s how we approached this tournament and we did. There’s so much to be excited about given the age of some players.

“We have shown the rest of the world that English football is healthy and that we have some excellent players, not just for now but also for the future.”

England captain Harry Kane had the chance to take the game into extra time after Giroud’s goal, but in the 84th minute he kicked a penalty over the bar.

He had earlier scored from the penalty spot to cancel out Aurelien Tchouameni’s lead in the first half and Southgate was quick to defend the Tottenham forward.

“He’s very short but he has nothing to reproach himself with,” she said.

“We are in the position we are as a team thanks to his goals and leadership over a long period of time. The result was down to 100 minutes of football and things happening at both ends of the pitch.

“Even if the penalty goes in, we still have a lot to do to win the match. We win and we lose together.

“It was difficult when you take the second penalty against a goalkeeper you know very well [Kane’s Tottenham team-mate Hugo Lloris]. Even the best sometimes make mistakes, this is football.

“But there’s no one I’d rather have in that situation and if we had a penalty tomorrow I’d feel the same way.

“It’s cruel to him because he’ll feel let down in himself, but he shouldn’t.”

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