Gareth Southgate insists England can NOT take their foot off the gas despite already qualifying for Euro 2024… as Three Lions boss challenges his side to become No.1 rank in the world
by: Hani Kamal El-Din
Gareth Southgate has warned his England players that anyone easing up just because they have qualified for Euro 2024 risks missing out on the tournament, as he set them a target of becoming the No.1 ranked nation in the world.
The Three Lions sign off from qualifying against North Macedonia here in Skopje on Monday evening with their pot-one seeing for the Euros all but assured. There will be two more friendly matches in March before the squad for the finals is named.
And Southgate, when asked about players taking their foot off the gas, said: ‘Why (would they do that)? What are we trying to do? Why would we accept that?
‘We’ve got a chance as we did at the weekend (2-0 win over Malta) for some players to grow. I spoke after the game about Marc Guehi and Trent Alexander-Arnold (doing well). We got Cole Palmer into the game as well.
‘I can’t imagine in any other environment where you would be thinking, “Let’s just see these gams out”. Maybe that’s why we haven’t got to where we need to as a team in the past.’
England secured a 2-0 win over Malta despite already qualifying for Euro 2024
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has urged his side not to take their foot off the gas
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Marcus Rashford, in particular, was below par against Malta and Southgate was asked about the Manchester United forward.
‘We’ve obviously got good competition for places in the wide positions,’ he said. ‘All of our players have to be aware that they have to play well. We have to pick a squad for the Euros in three matches’ time.’
England could finish the calendar year at number three in the FIFA rankings – their previous best is fourth – but Southgate is aiming even higher.
‘We might be ranked third in the world at the minute, but we’re two places off where we need to be, so we can’t waste games,’ he added. ‘If we’re going to be a top team, then the level of performance has got to be spot on every time.
‘Yes (FIFA No.1 is an ambition), because ultimately you achieve that through consistency and you’ve got to play well in the tournaments, because the ranking points are higher.
‘Also, it sets behaviours every day on the training pitch, off the training pitch. If you are going to be the top ranked team, there’s no room for sloppiness or casualness. That’s got to be our drive.’
England are without Kieran Trippier, who has returned to Newcastle for personal reasons, while West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen stayed in England after picking up a muscle problem in training, although Southgate does not believe the issue is ‘anything serious’.