England boss Gareth Southgate bites back at over-cautious claim after dull Italy draw

Gareth Southgate on "intriguing" fixtures at World Cup 2022 draw

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England manager Gareth Southgate has hit back at claims that his side are too cautious following their goalless draw with Italy. When asked by Channel 4 if he would call his side’s performance cautious, Southgate replied: “I don’t see how you can really, because we are trying to move the ball through against a very good, well organised team. We have got the ball into our forward players, we have given them all a go in trying to refresh it because we know the state of the season we are at, so at the moment that little bit of sharpness in the final third isn’t quite there but I was pleased with the general performance.”

The draw with Italy means they remain bottom of their Nations League group and are yet to score a goal from open play in their three matches against Hungary, Germany and Italy.

Southgate added: “There were things that we did against Germany that we did really well, and there was things that we needed to improve on and we improved on a lot of those things today. Getting the ball through their midfield press and getting it on to the next line, we were much better at. We have had two or three really good chances and we just need that little bit of sharpness in the final third.

“But I thought our general performance was good and I was pleased with. There was a lot of positive individual performances from players that we needed to see and who have gone in and done well. You can’t ignore the fact that when you are really pushing, especially in the second half when we were the better team, we don’t have a crowd to push us on and put the opposition under pressure, and that makes a massive difference to the team.

“I have said that we have been too reliant on Harry [Kane] and Raheem [Sterling] for our goals. Other players have got to step into that space. A lot of them do it for their clubs but at international level at the moment they aren’t quite doing that. We have looked dangerous without getting the goals that are needed to win these bigger games.”

Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount missed England’s best chance of the game, and he claimed that Southgate’s side should have scored at Molineux. “I think we had chances today and we probably should have scored.” The 23-year-old said. “Sometimes you go through those periods as a team where it is difficult. The only thing we can do is to remain focused, keep working hard in training and look where we can improve. We have the players to do that, we have the quality so it’s just to keep working at it.

“We want to win every game that we are involved in, even if it is a friendly. These are Nations League games that we want to win, it is something that we have looked after the last two games and we came into this game with a lot of confidence in what we can do, yeah, it is a tough one.”

Former England striker Michael Owen, on punditry duty for Channel 4, said: “I thought England probed and pushed and tried to score goals and they had a few chances, but when you are the dominant team and have the dominant players, you can be quite brave.

“We heard Gareth Southgate before the game and he said you can’t just go all out with all your superstar players to score every time you have the ball, I understand that. The top teams in the Premier League, I watch them every week and they have two attacking full-backs that are high up and have one sitter. We are playing with two holding midfielders, defenders who don’t push as high up as the team I’m referring to, which is Liverpool.”

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