Gareth Southgate repeatedly declared on Friday night that he had “loved” the experience of managing England, though avoided stating that he wanted the job, despite a clinical 3-0 win over Scotland.
With the Football Association having no intention to make Southgate’s appointment permanent before Tuesday night’s Wembley friendly against Spain, Southgate said it was “not my decision.” He was not too coy to assert what he felt had been achieved in his brief three-match tenure - stating that he felt that the team had been prepared “really well” since he was appointed as an emergency replacement after Sam Allardyce was sacked in September.
“I was given the task of picking the job up in a very difficult situation for everybody, and I feel we've prepared the team really well,” Southgate said. “I've loved it. I've loved it. I've really enjoyed the role and the responsibility, the challenge of every part of it. I get that that's not quite as enjoyable if you don't get the results. There are nights where you have to get over the line and get the result, but it's been a brilliant experience."
The fickle nature of football management was revealed as Southgate’s discussion followed a press conference in which Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, whose side have lost consecutive fixtures 3-0, was prickly when asked about his own future.
“At this moment in time, if you think I'm thinking about myself right at this moment, then you don't know me,” Strachan said. “If you think I'm thinking about that at this time, you don't know me. You absolutely don't know me. If you think I'm sitting here, worrying about myself and how I'm feeling, you're wrong. Completely wrong.
"You think I'm thinking about myself when all these guys have gone through that, all their families have travelled down here, the supporters travelled down here and you actually think I'm thinking about myself? Yes, probably when I'm just about to die. I'll say: 'How did you get on Gordon?' 'Not a bad life'.
England vs Scotland player ratings
England vs Scotland player ratings
1/22 Joe Hart – 6 out of 10
Dealt with everything that came his way, though the few Scottish efforts that reached him were either mistimed or weak.
2/22 Kyle Walker – 8 out of 10
England’s best player in the first half. He threatened the Scots time and again with direct dashes down the right flank. Deserved his assist.
3/22 Gary Cahill – 5 out of 10
As the most experienced member of England’s backline, could have marshalled his men much better, especially right after the break. Still, scored the third with a header.
4/22 John Stones – 6 out of 10
The odd moment of hesitation and indecision undermined a largely sound display. Guilty of dropping too deep and inviting pressure at times.
5/22 Danny Rose – 7 out of 10
Not initially as impressive as Walker on the opposite wing, but came alive after the break and earned his assist for Lallana’s goal.
6/22 Eric Dier – 7 out of 10
Looks more and more like his country’s most accomplished midfielder. Not a special night, but he did the simple things well.
7/22 Jordan Henderson – 5 out of 10
Has his deeper role at Anfield inhibited him? Offered little going forward when, alongside Dier, he had license to run and get creative.
8/22 Wayne Rooney – 6 out of 10
An improvement on recent displays for his country but it remains hard to see where he fits in. His selection is always predicated on his world class talent, but it feels so long since we’ve seen it.
9/22 Adam Lallana – 8 out of 10
Brought all the dynamism and work ethic he has shown recently for Liverpool and was rewarded with his second goal at international level.
10/22 Raheem Sterling – 8 out of 10
Often bruised and battered, but kept bravely running at Scotland’s deep defence, and England’s fan finally seem to be on his side. Less said about the sitter, the better.
11/22 Daniel Sturridge – 8 out of 10
Maintained his recent good record when playing under Wembley’s arch. His flicked header was his fourth goal in his last six starts here.
12/22 Craig Gordon – 4 out of 10
Beaten too easily for each of England’s goals – particularly Lallana’s, where his positioning was particularly questionable.
13/22 Ikechi Anya – 5 out of 10
Did not trouble England down the flank as often as he could have, potentially because of his side’s conservative tactics.
14/22 Christophe Berra – 4 out of 10
Struggled with Sturridge’s movement, especially when he had Lallana and Sterling to contend with too. A poor display.
15/22 Grant Hanley – 5 out of 10
Should have punished England when presented with a free header off a corner in the first half. Slightly more competent at the back than his partner.
16/22 Lee Wallace – 7 out of 10
One of Scotland’s more impressive performers, he made sure Sterling knew he was there on more than one occasion.
17/22 Darren Fletcher – 6 out of 10
A willing but often unable presence in Scotland’s midfield. In his pomp, would surely have had his old team-mate Rooney under wraps.
18/22 James Forrest – 5 out of 10
Lacked a cool head when Gordon Strachan needed one and spurned Scotland’s best chance of the match.
19/22 Scott Brown – 4 out of 10
The subject of much debate after returning to the side, but this performance did nothing to hurt Charlie Adam’s claim to his place.
20/22 James Morrison – 4 out of 10
When he wasn’t wasteful in possession, he was inadequately attempting to stop England bypass Scotland’s first line of defence. Hooked in the second half.
21/22 Robert Snodgrass – 5 out of 10
Another one guilty of wasting chances when they fell to him. One of the few in Strachan’s side who can invent something, but failed to show that tonight.
22/22 Leigh Griffiths – 6 out of 10
Offered bright, intelligent play and harried England’s fallible centre-halves but no avail. Should’ve done better when played through by a white shirt in the first half.
"Apart from that, no. At this moment in time, it's absolutely nothing to do with me. I have to think about everybody in that dressing room and how I send them back to their clubs not down. I've got to send them back feeling they gave it their best shot.” Strachan's players were punished for spurning three great opportunities.
Southgate said his players had been less impetuous about shooting from distance than they had in his previous games at the helm. “We were pretty ruthless in front of goal,” he said. “We created good chances today. At times we've taken too many shots from distance, or the wrong option at times in the last few games. Today we were a bit more patient working the ball into different areas.”
But he was clearly unhappy about the possession England conceded in their own third. “We invited the press too readily at times,” he said. “We have to find a balance. We can't be sloppy doing that, and recognise we need to find different solutions sometimes to get out of certain areas of the pitch. But to approach the game in that manner and have the confidence to employ it, that was encouraging.”Reuse content