Gareth Southgate Faces Criticism Despite England’s Group Success at Euro 2024

England manager Gareth Southgate received a mixed reception from fans after his team secured the top spot in Group C, while Slovenia also advanced to the Euro 2024 knockout stages with a 0-0 draw in Cologne.

The Three Lions were already guaranteed a place in the last 16, but their performance drew criticism as they struggled past Serbia and had a draw with Denmark.

“I understand that the fans are not happy with me, that’s the reality. I won’t shy away from that. I need their support for the team,” Southgate commented on the fans’ reaction.

“I wanted to thank everyone for their support, but I know this is causing some issues within the group.”

England will wait until the final group games on Wednesday to know which of the top four third-placed teams they will face in the last 16. Questions linger over their ability to end a 58-year wait for a major tournament victory, especially after their star-studded forward line was neutralized by Slovenia.

“We played better than in previous games. We just couldn’t find that finishing touch, but we’re looking ahead to the next game,” said England captain Harry Kane.

Southgate made a statement with his team selection by making only one change from the first two games, with Conor Gallagher replacing Trent Alexander-Arnold.

If Southgate expected a reaction from the unchanged starting eleven, he was disappointed.

Slovenia extended their unbeaten streak to nine games, including a 2-0 win over Portugal in a friendly before the tournament.

Declan Rice had identified Benjamin Sesko as a major threat ahead of the match. Sesko, who could have joined Arsenal next season but opted to extend his contract at RB Leipzig, started despite a thigh injury and had the first chance of the game, albeit a tame header straight at Jordan Pickford.

England’s first real threat came after 20 minutes, but an offside call denied them an early goal after Phil Foden’s run and Bukayo Saka’s tap-in were ruled out.

Southgate made changes at halftime, bringing on Kobbie Mainoo for Gallagher. The 19-year-old injected energy into England’s midfield, but they still struggled to convert possession into chances.

Kane had a header cleared off the line by Sesko from a corner, while Rice missed wide from outside the box.

In response to calls for change, Southgate gave Cole Palmer his tournament debut in the final 20 minutes. The Chelsea midfielder, who scored 26 goals at club level this season, had England’s only shot on target in the second half but failed to trouble veteran goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

The Slovenians celebrated securing a point jubilantly, which was enough for them to advance as one of the top third-placed teams, owing to their three draws from three games.

Matjaz Kek, Slovenia’s coach, expressed surprise at reaching the knockout phase but believed their performances justified their place against one of the tournament favorites.

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