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Published 11 December 2022 4 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Gareth Southgate positive for the future after World Cup exit

Written by:

Nicholas Veevers

England manager sat down to reflect on his squad's campaign at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
England manager Gareth Southgate says he has ‘few regrets’ about his team’s 2022 World Cup campaign, following their quarter-final exit at the hands of France.

The Three Lions were unfortunate to end up on the losing side of a close and competitive game against the defending world champions in the last eight of this year's competition.

And as Southgate and his squad and staff prepared to depart Doha and head home on Sunday morning, the boss took time out to sit down and reflect on the night and weeks which came before.

"It's a really strange feeling because the end of a tournament is so stark,” he said, in conversation with Lions’ Den with M&S Food host Josh Denzel.

“Everyone is packing everything up, after going through years of preparation and then months of tighter preparation.

"There's also the feeling that we've come so close and the performance, we were happy with.

“We felt we could've gone on and done more but yet, I really have few regrets about the whole thing so emotionally it's a rollercoaster.”
11 Dec 2022 4:27

Southgate's World Cup reflections

Watch the full interview as the England manager looks back at his squad's campaign in Qatar

For the players, Southgate admits there’s still a lot of hurt among the group as they head home.

But he also knows there could be a bright future with a young core group of players with even more high-level experience behind them.

"They're flat,” he revealed. “They know they've played well, and you know when you don't hit the levels that you feel you should, and they know that they have throughout this tournament.

"Because of our experiences in the last few years, the knockout games have become something where we have more expectation, we've become freer in them.

"If I think back to Colombia [round of 16 game in 2018 World Cup] four years ago, the tension in the team and in all of us at getting over the line, it affects performance.

“I think we saw in the two knockout games this time, that's what that experience it brings.

"They have more belief, they have more confidence and you can't fast-track that - they've got to live through that and we've now got a group of very young players with that big-game experience already and the core of a group who can be together for a long time.

“The group of players who haven't started as many games have been phenomenal.

“At times, people think we just talk about that and are trying to keep people happy but it's the reality of what we have here.

“That, culturally, is so important, like the training sessions we have after games, the support in the dressing room and from the bench - that's what makes a team in a tournament.

"Individually, it's a big challenge as they're big players and they're used to playing every week with their clubs and they should all be really proud of the sacrifice they've given.

"It won't have been the tournament they would've individually wanted, but they will have grown as people because of that.”
England's players were distraught at full time after losing to France in Doha
England's players were distraught at full time after losing to France in Doha
For the players, it will now be a return to their club teams as they prepare to resume their domestic duties later in two weeks.

But for Southgate and his staff, there will be the usual look back over the tournament experience as a whole with an eye already on the next one, hopefully at the EUROs in Germany in 2024.

"We've not been in this position before when we're coming up to Christmas, but we will reflect and debrief the games but also the whole camp.

"At the moment, it's hard to think of things we could've done better.

“There might be bits and pieces and these are things which you'll take forward to further tournaments so that's a process that we'll go through.

“Then, I'll have Christmas with my family and we'll go from there.”