fbpx Skip to main content

Gareth Southgate insists he is “oblivious” to external assessments of his England team after performances at Euro 2024 were heavily criticised by former players.

Both Gary Lineker and fellow ex-England captain Alan Shearer have been outspoken about the form of captain Harry Kane and the team’s overall display after they laboured to a 1-1 draw against Denmark in their second group game on Saturday.

Lineker labelled the performance “s***” on his ‘The Rest is Football’ podcast, having said that Kane “needs to do a lot better”, with the Bayern Munich striker claiming on Sunday such comments were not helpful coming from former England internationals.

Gareth Southgate pinches his nose on the touchline during England's draw with Denmark
Gareth Southgate admitted England were not at their best against Denmark (Adam Davy/PA)

On the eve of the final Group C match against Slovenia in Cologne, Southgate was asked how he felt about Lineker’s take.

“That is the world we are in,” he said. “I am oblivious to it, it is not important to me at all. What is important to me is that I’ve got to guide this group of players confidently through the terrain that is a tournament.

“We are a high-profile team with expectations and we fully understand everything we do will be scrutinised so I am very comfortable living that life and I don’t need to engage in external because I am my own biggest critic, I think our players are as well.

“So there is nothing to be gained from us that is going to help improve us listening to external criticism. We know what we have done well, we are very honest about that. We know when we need to be better, we are brutally honest about that. That is how you work as a team, that is how you coach a team and that is how you improve performance.”

Match of the Day host Lineker said journalists were “stirring the pot” after Harry Kane was asked about being on the end of criticism from former England players.

Kane hit back during a press conference on Sunday, saying former players have a responsibility to keep their opinions in check as they have been part of England’s long trophy drought.

Lineker carried on the back-and-forth during the latest episode of his podcast, suggesting journalists were too scared to ask their own questions.

“Made the headlines again, haven’t I? Because journalists being journalists, being a bit tricky in these things and trying to wind up our footballers,” he said.

“We’ve been critical of England’s performances, as has pretty much every journalist, but you know how it happens.

“We’ve talked about this a few times before, about journalists not being brave enough to ask their own questions.

“There was one bit there where he (Kane) says that we have responsibilities as ex-England players, that we should know better and that we never won anything or words to that effect.

“Fine, he’s absolutely right. But I will say one thing: the last thing in the world we want to be is downbeat and critical. We want the England team to perform well on the pitch. The best punditry of all is when England play well.”

Shearer also accepts Kane’s retort but believes the national team skipper has the power to have the final say.

Shearer added: “It’s important we never get personal. That’s the most important thing.

“They were terrible and we have to say that. If England were brilliant we’d say they were brilliant, that’s the way it is.

“As a player you always get the right of reply on the pitch. I have no problem what we said, I wouldn’t take anything back we said.”

Southgate believes he is too long in the tooth for such debates to even register on his radar as he plots to lead England to glory at his fourth major tournament as manager.

“The great thing about being in this job for a long time is I’ve managed to realise how to manage myself in the best way,” he added.

“So a few years ago I would’ve read things, I would’ve listened to things and it would’ve saddened me and it would’ve taken energy from me.

“Now I have to cut myself off from it. I can’t put myself in that position because you lose focus and you lose what’s important.

“It gives me great perspective, it allows me to be, hopefully as I appear now with the team, they can see that in actual fact we’re just thinking about how we improve things. We are composed in what we are trying to do. We never duck where we are as a team.

“That’s the modern world. It’s not just the general media it’s all the other media outlets, it’s social media, it’s a different environment. If you don’t open yourself to it, it can’t affect you.”