In his tenure as manager of the England national team so far, Gareth Southgate has already reached two semi-finals: the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Nations League. His expectations will not be any less this time around ahead of Euro 2020.
When asked whether anything less than a semi-final berth will be a disappointment for England, Southgate said, “Yes, it probably will. I think we’re realistic about that, we have to live with that expectation.
“We know the excitement around the team and it’s great. We’re now relevant.
“We’ve been to two semi-finals so the next step is to try to go further.”
England players are facing several fitness concerns and issues due to club commitments added to an increased pressure surrounding the pandemic. Preparations have certainly been tougher compared to the 2018 World Cup where Southgate’s side defied expectations to reach the semi-final in Russia.
“Expectations were lower (in Russia). We’ve got some exciting players and I don’t think these players are at their peak by any means. I think when I look at some of the players working with us it’s so exciting for England in the future.
“I’ve got to try to manage the expectations for the players. I accept the situation as a manager, there’s expectation, I have to deliver,” said Southgate.
The 50-year-old also stressed that the focus will be on the collective instead of him as an individual point of concern. He also enjoys the fact that several players included in the final 26-man squad for Euro 2020 are young and will be eager to make the most out of the experience in a big tournament like the Euro Cup.
“We have to deliver as a group of staff, it’s not about me in terms of if we can be successful. But, of course, it’s about me if we fail. No problem, that’s the gig.
“But for the players, I’ve still got to bear in mind they are a young group, they have still got a lot of progression to make, some are now learning how to win things, being involved in big matches. It’s brilliant for their progress and opportunities for England, that’s what we want,” concluded the England manager.
England will take on Austria in a friendly warm-up match at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium before welcoming Romania to the same stadium in their next warm-up fixture.