‘I don’t fear Eng­land job’

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

GARETH SOUTH­GATE (pix) has de­clared he would not be afraid to take on the Eng­land man­ager’s job on a per­ma­nent ba­sis when his four-game stint as in­terim head coach ends.

South­gate was in­stalled fol­low­ing Sam Al­lardyce’s abrupt de­par­ture in Septem­ber and Fri­day’s 3-0 win over Scot­land in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing left him with two wins and one draw from his first three games.

The Eng­land job is one of the most high-pro­file roles in world foot­ball, oblig­ing in­cum­bents to deal with sky­high ex­pec­ta­tions, a huge de­gree of per­sonal scru­tiny and an im­pa­tient press pack.

But when asked if there was any part of him that feared the job, South­gate replied: “No, is the an­swer.

“I said ear­lier in the week that it would be easy to look at the neg­a­tives, but to work with top play­ers and to work in big matches is what I want to do. From that side, no.”

Renowned for his mild-man­nered na­ture, South­gate pro­duced a rare dis­play of emo­tion af­ter Adam Lal­lana’s sec­ond goal against Scot­land, drop­ping to one knee on the touch­line and punch­ing the air.

“I en­joy win­ning,” the 46-year-old told re­porters af­ter the game at Wem­b­ley.

“Ob­vi­ously the per­son that I am when I’m in this sort of sit­u­a­tion (talk­ing to the me­dia) or out­side and meet­ing peo­ple is dif­fer­ent to the an­i­mal that wants to win foot­ball matches.

“I think the play­ers get that now and that’s im­por­tant be­cause I think some­times there’s per­haps a mis­con­cep­tion about how much it means for me to win. So it’s a spe­cial night to be in­volved in.”

Eng­land’s win over their old ri­vals pre­served their two-point ad­van­tage at the top of UEFA qual­i­fy­ing Group F.

While the mar­gin of vic­tory – thanks to head­ers from Daniel Stur­ridge, Lal­lana and Gary Cahill – was com­fort­able, their per­for­mance was far from pol­ished.

Eng­land’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to play the ball out from the back gave their sup­port­ers sev­eral hair-rais­ing mo­ments, with John Stones guilty of play­ing his team into trou­ble on more than one oc­ca­sion.

But al­though South­gate em­pha­sised the need for “brav­ery, but not stu­pid­ity”, he de­fended Stones and said the Manch­ester City cen­tre­back will need pa­tience if he is to ful­fil his vast po­ten­tial.

“For years we’ve talked about not be­ing able to play out from the back,” said South­gate, whose side en­ter­tain Spain in a friendly to­mor­row.

“If we’re to be dif­fer­ent, if we’re to progress, then we have to en­cour­age play­ers. But he also knows what I think of some of the things he did!

“What we’ve got to re­mem­ber is he’s 22. In cen­tral de­fen­sive terms, it’s noth­ing. If we want to have a (Mats) Hum­mels, a (Jerome) Boateng, a (Ger­ard) Pique…

“I can re­mem­ber manag­ing a team against Pique at 22 when he played for Manch­ester United and he wasn’t the all-round real deal.

“I think he’s got the per­fect man­ager to work with (Pep Guardi­ola) and to hone (his game) and for all of our de­fend­ers, that’s what we want to en­cour­age.” – AFP


Scot­land’s Dar­ren Fletcher (L) chal­leng­ing Eng­land’s Adam Lal­lana for the ball dur­ing their 2018 World Cup Qual­i­fy­ing Euro­pean Zone Group F at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium on Fri­day. –

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