The Three Lions suffered their heaviest home defeat since March 1928 on Tuesday night as their Nations League nightmare continued. Southgate’s side now sit bottom of the group having claimed just two points and managed one solitary goal in their four fixtures so far.
The floundering form is a far cry from that of 12 months ago when England were a penalty shootout away from clinching their first major honour since 1966 at Euro 2020. However, according to Jermaine Jenas, the humiliating defeat to Hungary could be good news, as he believes it’s the “reality check” Southgate’s side needed.
Taking to Twitter, the 21-time England international wrote: “Probably not a popular opinion but personally think this is good for England and Gareth Southgate, a much needed reality check. It’s been a long season for the lads – get yourselves on holiday rested and come back next season with a point to prove again.”
However, while Jenas looked for light in the darkness, others were less forgiving of the Three Lions’ lacklustre display. In contrast, Joe Cole took aim at England’s underperforming stars, accusing them of adopting the wrong “attitude” toward the match within a scathing assessment.
“A shocking performance, the players were not at it and the attitude was wrong,” Cole slammed. “I can understand the frustration of the fans. Does Gareth Southgate know what he is doing? Of course, he has taken the team to a semi-final and final but that was dreadful.”
Southgate himself took full responsibility for the result following the damning defeat, in which supporters inside Wolves ‘ Molineux Stadium targeted the England manager with a chorus of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’. “Yes of course (he can understand them),” Southgate said in response to fan frustrations.
“In the end, this is about winning matches with England. Tonight was the sort of night that a lot of my predecessors have had and experienced, and it’s difficult.
“I’m not going to say it doesn’t hurt, but it’s very clear to me what we were trying to do across the four matches, and the irony is that the two Nations League campaigns have been the ones that have heaped negativity and pressure onto us. I’ve got to go with that and it’s my job to protect the players. The results are my responsibility.”
Jenas and Cole weren’t the only ex-England stars to offer to their opinions on the dire display. Former Three Lions left-back Ashley Cole insisted Southgate’s side had “excuses” for the manner of their performance, but claimed they simply weren’t good enough.
He said: “Too many players were off it. They’ve been held responsible before and they take it on the chin when they haven’t performed.
“On reflection they’ll look in the mirror and know it wasn’t good enough. They did have a few excuses, but they also came up against a Hungary side who were hungry and wanted it.”
Mark Leech/Offside/Getty Images)
Gary Neville also weighed in on Twitter as he expressed his sympathy for the fans and players, before urging England’s coaching team to “collectively come together” in order to see the Three Lions escape their current rut ahead of the Qatar World Cup later in the year. He wrote: “Sympathy for the fans and for the players.
“This isn’t right. Players/coaches will have to collectively come together to start to influence the programme to get that clear break.”
With regards to those booing Southgate and calling the manager’s position into question, Jamie Carragher ordered them to “shut up”. Taking to Twitter, the former defender wrote: “‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ – shut up you clowns. This manager has taken the country in two tournaments to the best positions since 1966.”