England: ‘Personal nature’ of criticism is fuelling Gareth Southgate's bid for Euro 2024 glory

England: ‘Personal nature’ of criticism is fuelling Gareth Southgate's bid for Euro 2024 glory

Gareth Southgate says the “personal nature” of the criticism thrown at him this summer is fuelling his desire to lead England to European Championship glory.

Southgate’s side are gearing up for Wednesday’s clash with the Netherlands in the last-four after overcoming Switzerland in a dramatic penalty shootout in Dusseldorf on Saturday night.

The meeting with the Dutch will be England’s third semi-final in four tournaments under Southgate, just one fewer than all of his predecessors combined, and victory would see him become the first men’s manager to take England into a major final overseas.

Despite England’s progress, though, the 53-year-old has come under heavy fire following a series of unconvincing displays and his relationship with England supporters has at times appeared fractious, with some fans throwing beer cups at the manager following the 0-0 draw with Slovenia in Cologne last month.

“Look, I can't deny that some of the personal nature [has been difficult],” Southgate said. “This is a job where you get ridiculed and your professional capability is questioned beyond belief. And I don't think it's normal to have beer thrown at you either.

“But, I'm fortunate that my life's taken me through a lot of resilience-building and it's made me more determined and I'm just using it as fuel.

“I know where I want to take the team to and the team need to see me strong in those moments as well, otherwise that messaging that you're giving them on what they need to be, it doesn't ring true.”

Ending England’s 58-year wait for a men’s major trophy would stand as ultimate vindication for Southgate, who has raised expectations since inheriting a team at rock-bottom in the aftermath of Euro 2016 and Sam Allardyce’s short-lived tenure.

At that point, England had gone two decades without progressing beyond a quarter-final and Southgate believes there has been a fundamental change in the country’s approach to tournaments since the breakthrough of unexpectedly reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia in 2018.

“I think the difference is, you know, we arrive in a quarter-final, we're not satisfied with that,” he said. “There is definitely a mindset shift in what we feel is acceptable as a team, where we want to end up.

“Now within that it's knockout football, the margins are so fine as we've seen again tonight. That can easily tip the other way and it's a different story.

“But those teams that have won consistently, they have that mindset. They’re not just satisfied with being in quarter-finals, they're pushing in and that's what we have to continue.”