England manager Gareth Southgate ‘conflicted’ about future after World Cup 2022 exit

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England manager Gareth Southgate says he is “conflicted” about his future, having “found large parts of the last 18 months difficult”.

Southgate’s side were knocked out of the 2022 World Cup on Saturday, losing 2-1 to France in the quarter-finals.

Afterwards, he said he would “review and reflect” before deciding whether to carry on in the role.

“I don’t want to be four, five months down the line thinking I’ve made the wrong call,” added the 52-year-old.

“It’s too important for everybody to get that wrong.”

Southgate, who was appointed in October 2016, led England to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and a first European Championship final in 2021.

He has won six knockout games in major tournaments as Three Lions boss – the same number as England won in the 48 years before he took charge.

However, England went into the Qatar World Cup on the back of relegation from their Uefa Nations League group after three defeats and three draws.

One of those losses was a 4-0 defeat by Hungary in June at Molineux, during which England fans chanted at the manager: “You don’t know what you’re doing.”

“I’ve found large parts of the last 18 months difficult,” said Southgate, who has a contract until December 2024.

“For everything that I’ve loved about the last few weeks, I still have how things have been for 18 months – what’s been said and what’s been written, the night at Wolves.

“There are lots of things in my head that are really conflicted at the moment, so what I want to make sure, if it’s the right thing to stay, is that I’ve definitely got the energy to do that.”

England manager Gareth Southgate looks dejected after the World Cup quarter-final loss to France

Southgate has won 49 of his 81 games in charge of England, with Saturday’s loss to France being his 14th.

His side suffered a 2-1 defeat by Croatia in the last four of the 2018 World Cup in Russia after leading 1-0, and England were beaten on penalties by Italy in the Euro 2020 final, after also leading that match through an early Luke Shaw goal.

“When I’ve been through the past few tournaments, my emotions have been difficult to really think through properly in those following few weeks,” added Southgate.

“It took so much energy out of you and you have so much going through your mind.

“I want to make the right decision either way because it has to be the right one to go again, or the right one not to go again – and I don’t think tonight is the time to make a decision like that.

“Neither are the next few days really.”

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In the aftermath of England’s World Cup exit, Southgate’s players backed their manager with midfielder Declan Rice saying he hoped he continued in the job.

“I really hope he stays because the core group that we’ve got, and what he’s made for us, it’s so special to be a part of,” said Rice.

Centre-back Harry Maguire said Southgate had been “amazing”, while former England captain Alan Shearer said in his BBC Sport column that the manager should stay because he has “unfinished business” .

In their role as ITV pundits, ex-England internationals Gary Neville and Ian Wright, along with former Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane, unanimously agreed they would like to see Southgate continue, while BBC pundits Martin Keown and Jermaine Jenas, also both former England players, said he “100%” should carry on.

Rio Ferdinand, speaking on his YouTube channel, said a previously “pitch-perfect” Southgate had “let us down” with his substitutions against France, but added that he should not leave the role because “this story hasn’t had an ending yet”.

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