Gareth Southgate has pledged to trust his Under-21s players to behave themselves over the fortnight of the European Championship finals.
The England coach promised not to ban tomato ketchup, one of the rules that was enforced by Fabio Capello up to and during the 2010 senior World Cup finals. “Too bloody right!” said Southgate this week when asked if the English players’ condiment of choice would be available, adding baked beans would also be on the menu.
There is a serious element to the mood cultivated around the camp in Olomouc in south-east Czech Republic, with England squads of the past having struggled with strict training-camp rules. Past generations of Under-21s tours became synonymous with bad behaviour and Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand were among a group sent home by then-manager Dave Sexton during their time in the junior team.
Southgate said that he did not want to inflict a set of rules on his squad, many of whom are experienced Premier League players. He said: “We have had lads here like Tom Ince who are dads. Although it is a young team, you have to give them responsibility. They have never betrayed that.
“I don’t have a load of rules. They know they have got to be respectful, which is being on time for things and so on. When you have lists of rules and fines, I’m not sure that is discipline. That is just putting rules up. I’m not sure that means anything.”
The England squad arrived in the Czech Republic yesterday and were due to hold an open training session in the evening.
Southgate added: “We are staying in an area that is close enough for them to walk in and have a cup of coffee, meet local people or go and see their families. I want them to have responsibility and there is no reason from what I have seen over the last 18 months why it shouldn’t be that way.”Reuse content