Published 11 November 2021 3 min read
Southgate: 'We've set the target'
Read an excerpt of England manager Gareth Southgate's programme notes for the game against Albania at Wembley Stadium...
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We come into the last two matches of that campaign and then in San Marino next week knowing that we need four points to be certain of qualification for the World Cup next year and we’ve set ourselves the target of winning both games.
If we can do that, it’ll complete a calendar year of 19 matches, with the only defeat coming after a penalty shootout, so in terms of confidence of the team and the way we’ve played in regular matches, we’ve hit a good consistent level.
And hopefully we can end the year feeling good about ourselves after what we’ve achieved across the year.
As a team, we’ve set ourselves a really high standard of performance over the last few years and looking back at last month’s games, we really matched that in Andorra on what was a difficult pitch.
We gave a very good account of ourselves and played some good football to get the win, but then we didn’t quite hit our levels against Hungary here at Wembley in the following game.
I have to say they defended very well on the night and I think their performance was more like what they’ve been producing for a long period of time now – they’ve had draws with France and Germany in the EUROs, for instance – so we knew what they were capable of defensively.
And of course, when you go behind in a game that always gives the opposition something to fight with but we didn’t really play at the level that we’ve found over the last couple of years.
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With the ball, we gave possession away in an unusual manner really, which was very uncharacteristic of the players and we just weren’t able to find solutions to create good chances on the night.
We’re used to facing teams with a packed defence, but also Hungary did it really, really well and while we dominated possession of the game we couldn’t say we created enough chances to come away and say we deserved to win it on the night.
So that’s something we had to go away and reflect on and we know that with and without the ball, we’ve got to be better against Albania.
This is a chance for us to qualify for the World Cup and we’ve got to make sure that we get that performance right.