Gareth Southgate defends England's tactics in Euro 2020 draw with Scotland
By Ross Jackson
Gareth Southgate has defended his approach to England's 0-0 draw with Scotland, though he concedes his side performed nowhere near the level they're capable of.
The Three Lions followed up their solid 1-0 win over Croatia in their first Euro 2020 outing with a drab stalemate against the Scots on Friday night, with Southgate coming under criticism for selecting two holding midfielders and once again leaving Jack Grealish on the bench,
The point ultimately edges his side a step closer to qualification from Group D, though the England fans in attendance at Wembley made their feelings about the performance well known at full time as the referee's whistle was met with a chorus of boos.
Southgate has admitted England need to be better moving the ball forward, but he stuck by his decision not to go gung-ho in the closing stages and has called for the fans to get behind the team once again.
"It feels difficult in the last 15 minutes of a game like tonight where fans are desperate for you to go forward and abandon shape, because it's Scotland, it feels like a unique occasion, but we have to still approach it that a point is still an important step towards qualification, which ultimately is the first objective for us," Southgate told ITV (via Sky Sports).
"I think in those moments, if we had to chase to win with no consequence for conceding, you might approach it differently; but all the time, it's a night where it was a bit frantic, it wasn't a game with a huge amount of control, and you have to make sure that sitting on three points as we were, you manage the tournament as well as the game.
"It's easy to gamble towards the end, and lose shape, and then end up losing the game in the last five minutes, then you're kicking yourself for not managing the tournament. I understand we're at Wembley, we wanted to win, but in the context of the tournament qualification is the most important thing.
"It's a game where we didn't hit the levels we wanted to, or need to, and have to accept whatever comes our way, I'll have to accept whatever comes my way, I totally understand that, but what we need to do is make sure we get behind the players.
"There's a lot of young players who need the support of everybody - most of them haven't been involved in a game like that before, they'll learn a lot and bounce back from it, but they need everybody behind them."
Steve Clarke was in a far more buoyant mood than Southgate when asked about his side's performance and believes Scotland were more than a match for one of the tournament favourites.
"It was a good night, we played well," he said. "We were unfairly criticised after the game on Monday [against Czech Republic]; I know I have a good group of players and they showed that tonight, so I'm delighted for my players and staff.
"We had chances to win, England had moments as well, but looking at this you wouldn't have known which is the favourite which is a credit to us. The most pleasing thing was we played when we had the ball and created a number of chances."