An emotional Gareth Southgate said he needed time to make a decision on his future after Harry Kane suffered penalty heartbreak during England’s gut-wrenching quarter-final defeat by France.
England’s hopes of winning the World Cup came to a tearful end after Kane, who had already scored one equaliser from the spot, blazed over from 12 yards when he had the chance to make it 2-2 during the closing stages at Al Bayt Stadium.
The captain’s miss ensured that France, who won thanks to goals from Aurélien Tchouaméni and Olivier Giroud, will face Morocco in the last four and the result raised questions over whether Southgate will remain in charge after six years in the job.
The head coach, whose contract lasts until December 2024 and takes in that year’s European Championship in Germany, cut a deflated figure after overseeing a near miss for the third successive tournament. The Football Association does not want to lose Southgate and will hope to convince him to stay, but he could walk away after indicating that he may not have the energy to lead England into qualifying for Euro 2024.
“I think whenever I’ve finished these tournaments I’ve needed time to make correct decisions because emotionally you go through so many different feelings and the energy that it takes through these tournaments is enormous,” Southgate said.
“I want to make the right decision, whenever that is, for the team, for England, for the FA, and I’ve got to be sure whatever the decision I take is the right one. I think it’s right to take a bit of time to do that because I know in the past how my feelings have fluctuated in the immediate aftermath of tournaments.”
England’s qualifying campaign for the Euros begins in March and Southgate was asked whether continuing to manage young stars such as Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka would enter his thinking when he discusses his job with the FA.
“Of course,” he said. “We have always wanted to develop a group that can sustain the types of tournaments that we have had. We are continuing to do that. It is more the decisions around it. To go again takes a lot of energy. You have got to make sure you are ready for that. Tonight there is too much in my head to think logically. We wanted to win. Tonight we have fallen short.”
Kane, who said he would take his penalty miss “on the chin”, offered Southgate his backing. “I think we have a really bright future,” the striker said. “We love having Gareth as a manager. We want him to stay for sure, but that’s his decision.”
Southgate defended Kane, who would have broken Wayne Rooney’s record of 53 goals for England if he had converted his second penalty. “As you’d expect he’s very low,” he said. “But he’s got nothing to reproach himself for.
“We’re in the position we are as a team because of his leadership, because of his goals over a long period of time. Tonight the result is the result because of 100 minutes of football.”
England responded brilliantly after falling behind to Tchouaméni’s early strike. They have progressed under Southgate, who led them to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2020.
Southgate made clear he was proud of his team despite their latest disappointment. “They showed the balls to go toe-to-toe with a big team,” he said. “Of course we were not perfect and there were mistakes at both ends that decided the game. But I think we have shown that the state of English football is healthy. We have got some very good players. Not only for now but for the future.”