Gareth Southgate blocks out distractions as England target Euro 2024 progression

Gareth Southgate stressed the importance of blocking out background noise as England look to seal Euro 2024 progress with a game to spare.

The road to Berlin began with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Serbia on Sunday.

Jude Bellingham’s winner came during a fantastic start that petered out as England lost control, leading to debate and discussion about all manner of issues.

Jude Bellingham celebrates his goal as team-mates run to him
Jude Bellingham’s goal gave England a winning start (Martin Rickett/PA)

Southgate has long since learned to ignore such talk, with this his fourth – and perhaps final – tournament as manager, having gone to four more as a player.

Social media can make it harder for modern day footballers to focus on the matter at hand, but the England boss has been trying to keep the focus on what is important ahead of facing Denmark.

“There’s no point having a rule because young men are going to use social media, in a positive way in the main,” Southgate said.

“They are going to search for things. When I was playing, we read newspapers. I don’t do it.

“My world is a happier place if I shut myself off. It is not good from a global perspective because I haven’t got a clue what’s going on in politics or events elsewhere.

“But for the next month that is going to be a better place for me. So that helps me really keep on track. I think some of our players take a similar approach, others will definitely look at stuff.

“There’s more noise around a national team than there ever is around a club team.

“Millions of people in your own country, extensive media coverage, social media, one guy writing a comment on social media gets put in a newspaper now, that’s a story. So it’s a different world.

“Personally I accept that’s how it is. It is not going to affect what I do. My job is to keep the players on track.”

Vice-captain Kyle Walker sat alongside Southgate in Frankfurt, where England will seal a place in the knockout phase if they beat Euro 2020 semi-final opponents Denmark.

Kyle Walker sat smiling next to Gareth Southgate at England's pre-match press conference
Kyle Walker joined Gareth Southgate at the press conference (PA)

“If you have outside noise, whether you view that positively or negatively, people take it in different ways,” the experienced Manchester City right-back said.

“I would rather not see it and just concentrate on what’s in the camp, what the gaffer says and what my mum says!

“She always tells me I have a good game, so I just listen to her, and go from there.”

The mindset of Walker and his team-mates will be key if England are going to go all the way in Germany, having reached the continental final for the first time three years ago.

Gareth Southgate with coach Steve Holland during a training session
Gareth Southgate quickly turned his attention to England’s second game after the win over Serbia (Adam Davy/PA)

Southgate said: “We’ve had some great results over the years so maybe even we take wins for granted which we shouldn’t.

“I should definitely let the boys enjoy the wins more than I do. I get about 45 seconds of enjoyment. The whistle blows, I cuddle everybody, I walk off the pitch and that’s it. I hope they have a little bit longer than that.

“There should be more joy in it but that’s not my reality if I’m frank, so my focus is get qualified from the group, which we’ve got two tough opponents but two games to achieve that.

“I’m not looking beyond tomorrow night’s game at this moment in time.”