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Gareth Southgate prepares in hope of avoiding more penalty pain

By June 29, 2018No Comments

Gareth Southgate knows all about penalty shootout pain but says luck is no excuse, which is why England have been studying and developing strategies since March.

After finishing runners-up in Group G, the Three Lions head to Moscow on Tuesday to take on Colombia in a tough-looking last-16 World Cup clash.

England may have to go the distance in their bid to win a first knockout match since 2006, meaning their vulnerability from the spot could become clear once more.

The senior team have lost six of their seven penalty shootouts at major tournaments, including the Euro 96 semi-final against Germany when Southgate missed his key spot-kick.

But the former defender is determined his England side will be better prepared as they gear up for the World Cup knockout phase.

Asked if he has learned from Euro 96, manager Southgate said: “Absolutely, no question. I have had a couple of decades thinking it through.

“In defence of the staff there at the time, penalty shootouts weren’t as regular then.

“The depth of knowledge and understanding, we didn’t have as much information as we do now.

“FA Cup ties went to two, three replays so we weren’t in those situations as often as we are now.

“Definitely it’s not about luck. It’s not about chance. It’s about performing a skill under pressure.

Gareth Southgate prepares in hope of avoiding more penalty pain PLZ Soccer
Gareth Southgate missed against Germany at Euro 96 (Neil Munns/PA)

“There are individual things you can work on within that. We have studied it.

“There are things that can be unhelpful in terms of their preparation for players at that moment.

“As a staff knowing who is in charge of which bits, who needs to get out of the way, who can speak with clarity to the players.

“There is lots we can do to own the process and not be controlled by it.”

Southgate volunteered for his penalty 22 years ago but realises it is “probably braver” not to take one if you are not confident.

England’s coaching staff have regularly updated a “more considered list” of takers based on training, meaning they already have an idea about the order.

Individual processes and techniques have been focused upon in preparation, as well as the collective approach to a shootout.

“Making sure that there’s a calmness, that we own the process, that it’s not just decisions that are made on the spur of the moment or even behaviours around the team,” Southgate added.

“That it’s calm, the right people are on the pitch, the right staff are on the pitch. It doesn’t become too many voices in people’s heads. We’ve looked at a lot of things in detail.

“We’ve finalised that in the lead up to this game as well. I think that’s all you can do. You keep preparing in the right way possible and try and affect the things you can.”

Gareth Southgate prepares in hope of avoiding more penalty pain PLZ Soccer

Trent Alexander-Arnold laughed and shook his head when asked if Southgate had been taking any penalties in training but said “everyone’s working hard” to be ready.

“Obviously you don’t want it to get to penalties but it’s football at the end of the day and nothing really goes to plan when you’re out there on the pitch,” the England right-back said.

“I think if it does go to penalties then obviously we will be well prepared for that.”