Gareth Southgate says England must be “completely ruthless” from now on as World Cup preparations intensify following June’s Nations League results.
England are in Milan to face Euro 2020 final foes Italy on Friday night, knowing defeat will see them relegated from the top tier of the Nations League.
It would be an embarrassing moment and another rough bump in the road for one of the World Cup favorites in his penultimate game before the tournament.
Southgate’s side are determined to return to winning ways on Friday when they return to action for the first time since some fans called for the manager’s head during a humiliating 4-0 home loss to Hungary.
“Well, the individual part is not important,” the England manager said of the stick he faced. “We analyze everything, every department.
“I think when you’re winning … we were on a 22-game unbeaten streak that summer and maybe you don’t analyze wins as sharply as you analyze losses.
“That’s probably not the right approach actually.
“But I felt like I compromised certain decisions internally, and you don’t win if you compromise.
“It was good for me to sharpen that focus again because what we’re getting into we have to be completely ruthless and I have to create an environment for the players that allows them to excel.
“And give them the best platform to be at the level they’ve been for the last five or six years.”
Asked what the commitments were, Southgate said: “No, because these are internal things that we’re working on as a team, so there’s no need for that to be public.”
Losses to Hungary ended a miserable four-game run in June, with a 1-0 loss in Budapest followed by draws in Germany behind closed doors against the Azzurri.
But Molineux’s 4-0 was the crushing blow that leaves them at a crossroads with the World Cup just 60 days away.
“I’m not too sure it’s about form because when you’re in an international environment, there are so many weeks and months between games that you start from scratch all the time,” Southgate said.
“There were so many circumstances in the summer with, first of all, high-quality games, high-quality opponents, but also the need to take care of some of our great players.
“I think all nations did that. Talking to the coaches from Denmark, Belgium and France over the summer, everyone found it challenging because everyone is also thinking about the World Cup.
“Also players that we wanted to see more of because there are no friendlies after this, which you would normally have for a tournament.
“Two games behind closed doors, for various reasons, but we also reflect and dissect everything as a group of staff.
“When you’ve been through (challenging) periods as a coach, like I have, that helps you because you have real clarity about what needs to happen and how to get through those periods.
“Also, I think if we were to come out of those games wondering why things haven’t gone so well, then that would be more of a concern.
“But we knew exactly why and it’s a challenge for us as a staff group and ultimately for us to put that challenge on the players to respond.
“We know that the level of performance has to be incredibly high to achieve what we want to achieve in the World Cup.”
John Stones’ red card against Hungary means he is suspended for the trip to San Siro.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson entered the squad due to an injury to Kalvin Phillips, but Southgate says the plan was always for him to feature against Germany on Monday instead of Italy.
“Great tests for us, great games to be involved in first place,” Southgate said of the double header from Group A3.
“We play against two of the strongest footballing nations historically in two of the most iconic stadiums you can play in, so great tests for us.
“We want, of course, to improve on our summer performances and leave camp feeling good about ourselves heading into the World Cup.
“Coming here and playing Italy in Milan is a great opportunity to do that.”