‘We’re on track’: Southgate shields England players after tame USA draw

  • Team on verge of qualification after goalless match
  • ‘People will react. I can’t let that affect the team’

Gareth Southgate called for calm and told his players to ignore the noise after England were booed off at the end of their stodgy 0-0 draw with the USA.

England remain top of Group B and will qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup if they avoid a heavy defeat against Wales on Tuesday. Yet they were subjected to jeers at the Al Bayt Stadium after following their 6-2 win over Iran with a lifeless attacking display against an impressive USA side and Gareth Southgate, who has faced heavy criticism in recent months, accepted that his job will be to shield his players from the outside noise.

“Of course I want our fans to go home happy,” England’s manager said. “I want our fans at home to have a smile on their faces. We didn’t quite manage to achieve that tonight. But people are going to react how they’re going to react. I can’t let that affect how I feel about the team or how the team feels.

It was a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.

“The objective is to qualify. We have three games to do it. I would imagine most of the teams in the competition will take three games to do it. We have to stay calm in these tournaments. We’ve been through this before. I’m sure there will be a lot of noise; this is the tournament of external noise. But we’re on track. We have a bit to do. We can still improve. That’s going to be our target.”

The USA winger Christian Pulisic smiled when he heard about the boos from England’s fans. “I guess that’s a positive sign when you play for the other team,” Pulisic said. “There were stretches of the game where we had control and had them pushed back. Opposing fans don’t like to see that.”

England struggled to deal with the quality and energy of the USA midfield. But Southgate, who said he did not hear the reaction at full-time, was satisfied with how his side scrapped for a point.

“I’m really pleased with the application of the players against a tough opponent,” he said. “They defended incredibly well.

“To come off the high of that performance the other day and to find that same energy and level of quality was always going to be a challenge. Their front six made it so difficult to get into their defence and I actually thought we controlled the game really well. Our two centre-backs were absolutely outstanding.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of noise about that performance but not many teams go through a World Cup and get nine points in a group. We are in a good position.

“The players were very disappointed after the game but I told them that isn’t how it is going to be over the next few days. I thought they showed another side to what they are about, which will be important moving forward.”

Southgate, who said the humid conditions made it a tough physical challenge for his side, defended his decision not to introduce Phil Foden in the second half.

Christian Pulisic
Christian Pulisic was pleased with the USA’s display. Photograph: Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

“I was tempted to bring him on but whichever one of our forwards I didn’t put on if we didn’t win the game I was going to be sitting here answering the question why I didn’t put them on,” Southgate said.

“We wanted to change the wide areas and we didn’t think it was a game for Phil in the middle because he doesn’t play there for his club. We love Phil and think he is a super player.”


Jacob Steinberg at Al Bayt Stadium

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Stodgy England toil in cold footballing custard but the message is don’t panic | Barney Ronay
Gareth Southgate’s England delivered a performance protest in their stodgy draw with USA but perhaps this should be expected at World Cup of bad energy

Barney Ronay at Al Bayt Stadium

25, Nov, 2022 @11:35 PM

Article image
Edgy England on verge of World Cup last 16 after fortunate draw with USA
Another World Cup stalemate left Group B qualification open to all but England were fortunate to escape with a 0-0 after Christian Pulisic struck the bar

David Hytner at Al Bayt Stadium

25, Nov, 2022 @9:10 PM

Article image
Gareth Southgate feels ‘conflicted’ over England job future after recent lows
The England manager Gareth Southgate said he is taking time to reflect on his future and said: ‘I’ve found large parts of the last 18 months difficult’

David Hytner in Doha

11, Dec, 2022 @10:30 PM

Article image
Gareth Southgate reveals family persuaded him to stay as England manager
Defeat in Qatar prompted thoughts of stepping down but Gareth Southgate has said: ‘I’m in a job with the chance to make some history’

Mark Dobson

26, Jan, 2023 @6:55 PM

Article image
Gareth Southgate challenges England to make history against France
Gareth Southgate challenged his England team to become the first to defeat an elite side in an knockout round overseas when they face France on Saturday

David Hytner in Doha

05, Dec, 2022 @10:30 PM

Article image
England have ‘made the impossible look possible,’ says Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate sounded a positive note: ‘I’ve got to think about how we win this for our country,’ and believes England can be competitive for years

Jacob Steinberg in Doha

20, Nov, 2022 @10:30 PM

Article image
Unhappy World Cup memories for England keepers against USA
Rob Green and Bert Williams have unfortunate roles in the history of two teams who meet again in Qatar

Ed Aarons

24, Nov, 2022 @12:03 PM

Article image
Gareth Southgate has an England squad to recapture happy-ship energy | Barney Ronay
The 26-strong pool of players travelling to Qatar for the World Cup is the strongest group to leave these shores since 2006

Barney Ronay

10, Nov, 2022 @8:27 PM

Article image
Southgate is taking his biggest England gamble with loyalty to Harry Maguire | Jacob Steinberg
Manager must hope he is not burned in Qatar by keeping faith in a centre-back picked on reputation rather than form

Jacob Steinberg in Doha

20, Nov, 2022 @2:03 PM

Article image
England 0-0 USA: player ratings from the World Cup Group B game
Harry Maguire was one of England’s better performers on a night when the USA’s three midfielders caught the eye

Jacob Steinberg at Al Bayt Stadium

25, Nov, 2022 @9:21 PM