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Published 23 September 2022 4 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Southgate and Rice react to Italy defeat

Written by:

Paul Martin

Three Lions boss and midflelder give their thoughts after defeat in Milan leads to relegation in the UEFA Nations League

England manager Gareth Southgate and midfielder Declan Rice both spoke following Friday's 1-0 defeat to Italy in the UEFA Nations League.

It took a second-half goal from Giacomo Raspadori to settle the game at the San Siro, a result which saw England relegated to League B in the competition.

But with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar now just one game and less than two months away, Southgate says both he and the players need to remain calm and focused on what lies ahead, starting with the final preparation game against Germany at Wembley on Monday. 

"We can't say there's no value, these are important matches against top level teams," said Southgate.

"There were a lot of reasons for the results in the summer, but tonight we haven't got the result that we needed or wanted. We are in a run of bad results but it's for us to put that right.

"The only way we're going to do that is to stick with what we believe and what has got us success in the previous tournaments and in the end, the players have got to stay really tight because there's going to be a lot of noise and a lot of that will be around me.

"That is fine, it's my job to take that pressure for them. It's difficult for me to be too critical of the performance, we had more possession, more shots and more shots on target and for large parts of the game we played very well.

"But we didn't deal with the decisive moment defensively and we had moments when we had the chance to be more decisive in their final third but our quality wasn't quite just right.

"It's a spell where of course results are going to be the thing that everybody reacts to, but I thought there were a lot of positive signs from us as a team tonight, lots of good individual performances.

"I personally think the performance was a step in the right direction, but I completely understand because of the result that's not going to be the reaction externally..

"We are where we are in terms of the timing, but we've got to do what we can to keep the players on track and believing in what they're doing."

Three Lions midfielder Declan Rice applauds the fans who made the trip to Milan
Three Lions midfielder Declan Rice applauds the fans who made the trip to Milan
Rice has been one of Southgate's key players over the last few years and he added his thoughts, as England made it five games without a win.

“It’s obviously disappointing," he said. "Every tournament we go into, we set up to go and win the group and win every game. Obviously in the Nations League, we’ve slipped below our standards.

“I didn’t think it was all bad tonight. One chance for them, one goal. I thought we controlled the game and passed the ball around well, especially in the first half. We got into some good areas but lacked that cutting edge in the end.

“It’s coming – it was a much better performance than in the summer.

“It’s not that we’re not creating chances. So many times tonight we got into the opposition penalty box. Even myself at the end there, I could be adding goals by having a shot instead of laying one off.

“But I see it in training, there’s goals for fun. Trust me, we’re going to be good.”