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Gareth Southgate has all but written off England's chances of winning Euro 2020 chances as he admitted they were not at the "standard" of other nations.
However the man who's been in charge of England since 2016 describing his side as "a work in progress" and saying they are behind Italy - who did not even qualify for the 2018 World Cup, while England got to the semi-finals - will have some fans scratching their heads.
"I think I have said before that some teams are at a different point in their development," said Southgate, per the Mirror, ahead of England's final group game against the Czech Republic.
"The run that Italy have had - 28 or 29 games unbeaten - and we know what France and Portugal have done over the last few years, and Belgium have been the No 1 team in the world for four years.
"So that's the level. That's the standard we've got to aspire to.
"We're a work in progress. The first step is to qualify from the group and then we're into the next phase.
"But at this moment we've got to get the game against the Czech Republic right."
It's nice for England to have a manager who instills a winning mentality, in what is a ridiculously talented squad. pic.twitter.com/7i4X7z3Qbx- Champions Of Europe :star: :star: (@ChelseaYannick) June 20, 2021
Southgate is correct that focusing on the next game is the best strategy, even if the four points England have already may be enough to qualify them for the knockout stage.
However the cold water thrown on England's chances does sound curiously downbeat mid-tournament. Particularly as - if England win Group D - France and Portugal are two possible contenders, as England would play the runners-up in Group F (which also contains Germany).
Southgate really has got a catalogue of excuses https://t.co/XVbVuz9kWo- Ian Junior (@IanJnr7) June 20, 2021
I'm sorry but this sums Southgate up to a tee doesn't it? The lack of belief in his team to win a major tournament is ridiculous. We have an abundance of talent in are squad, probably the best in a long time. We can't we have a mentality to win a major tournament ffs . https://t.co/KeSI5QH2AW- Joe Bambrough :star::star: (@JoeBambrough) June 20, 2021
No disrespect to Lampard but legit reminds me of the same bs Lampard said about the team before he got sacked and ultimately got proved wrong.- Santos J. Ruedas (@SantosJRuedas41) June 20, 2021
Jesus...... I was optimistic going into this tournament not anymore. Just read what Southgate says in the interview- Tom owen (@thomasalanowen) June 20, 2021
"It's nice for England to have a manager who instils a winning mentality, in what is a ridiculously talented squad," said one Three Lions fan on Twitter in response to Southgate's comments.
"Southgate said that England are a 'work in progress'. He's been in charge for five years!" pointed out another.
Clearly Southgate was just trying to cool the hype that always builds around England in a major tournament. But some supporters feel that the manager may have gone a bit too far.
All imagery: PA Images
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