Stand-in South­gate proud of Eng­land im­pact

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

GARETH SOUTH­GATE said he has shown he can han­dle “big matches” af­ter con­clud­ing his four-game ten­ure as Eng­land’s in­terim man­ager with a 2-2 friendly draw against Spain.

Ap­pointed care­taker man­ager in the wake of Sam Al­lardyce’s de­par­ture, South­gate led Eng­land to two wins and two draws in his brief stint at the helm, cul­mi­nat­ing in yes­ter­day’s re­sult at Wem­b­ley.

He has re­fused to de­clare an out­right in­ter­est in the po­si­tion, which will now be dis­cussed by Eng­land’s Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, but ex­pressed pride at hav­ing given a good ac­count of him­self.

“I’ve proved to my­self I can man­age big matches, that with the help of my staff I can tac­ti­cally pre­pare the team to play a top side and give them a re­ally tough test,” South­gate told re­porters.

“I feel ev­ery sit­u­a­tion we’ve been through –- many of which have been com­plex and po­ten­tial pow­der kegs – we’ve coped with very well.

“This has been a bril­liant ex­pe­ri­ence. I’ve thor­oughly en­joyed work­ing with the play­ers. I can see the po­ten­tial of the group.

“When I took over it was a mo­ment of in­sta­bil­ity for ev­ery­body. We’ve brought sta­bil­ity back and built a plat­form for the team to push for­ward. “In terms of the re­mit we were asked to do, we’ve ful­filled that. I’m proud to have led the coun­try for a cou­ple of re­ally im­por­tant games and ex­pe­ri­enced what that feels like.” Bri­tish me­dia re­ports sug­gest South­gate, for­merly Eng­land’s Un­der-21 coach, will now be of­fered the job full­time, but he said he had “no idea” when a de­ci­sion will be made. “We’ve got a Euro­pean Un­der-21 Cham­pi­onship next sum­mer and the draw is be­ing made next month,” the 46-year-old told ITV.

Fac­ing an in­jury-rav­aged Spain, Eng­land went 2-0 up cour­tesy of a ninth-minute Adam Lal­lana (car­i­ca­ture) penalty and a fly­ing header by Jamie Vardy, who ended a 14-match goal drought.

But Spain debu­tant Iago As­pas re­duced the ar­rears in the 89th minute be­fore sub­sti­tute Isco squeezed an equaliser past Eng­land goal­keeper Tom Heaton in the sixth minute of stop­page time.

In­juries to Ser­gio Ramos, Ger­ard Pique and Jordi Alba prompted Spain coach Julen Lopetegui to de­ploy a makeshift three-man de­fence of Na­cho, Inigo Martinez and Ce­sar Azpilicueta.

Af­ter half an hour he switched to a back-four and praised his play­ers for stand­ing up to the waves of Eng­land at­tacks.

“We were miss­ing quite a few play­ers through in­jury, so it was quite an in­ex­pe­ri­enced de­fence,” said the for­mer Porto coach, who also gave a de­but to Manch­ester United mid­fielder An­der Her­rera.

“We knew Eng­land were very, very fast on the break. The poor lads at the back, Na­cho and Martinez, it was an ugly game for them.

“They were al­ways go­ing to suf­fer against the speedy Eng­land for­wards, but they re­acted well in the sec­ond half and com­ing out with a draw at the end was a real credit to the de­fence.”

Over­all, Lopetegui drew pos­i­tive con­clu­sions.

“The main thing is we showed the char­ac­ter to come back from a 2-0 deficit,” he said.

“We did what was nec­es­sary to come back in a dif­fi­cult game. Hope­fully they can ap­ply what they learnt tonight in the more im­por­tant com­pet­i­tive games ahead.”

Eng­land were miss­ing cap­tain Wayne Rooney af­ter he re­turned to Manch­ester United for treat­ment on a mi­nor knee in­jury.

Bri­tish tabloid The Sun has claimed Rooney drunk­enly gate­crashed a wed­ding at a ho­tel in Wat­ford, north of Lon­don, on Satur­day, but South­gate said in­jury was the only rea­son for his ab­sence.

“Wayne picked up an in­jury in the game (against Scot­land) on Friday,” he said. “He couldn’t train on Sun­day and that’s it.” – AFP

– REUTERSPIX

Eng­land in­terim man­ager Gareth South­gate gives in­struc­tions to Jesse Lin­gard (left) dur­ing their game against Spain at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium in Lon­don yes­ter­day.

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