Sports

Southgate still the right coach for England despite Euro 2024 struggles, says Kane


BLANKENHAIN (Germany), June 24 — Harry Kane has thrown his support behind Gareth Southgate amid criticism coming the way of the England manager after a sluggish start to Euro 2024.

The Three Lions are well-placed to progress to the last 16 after taking four points from their opening two games.

However, England have failed to live up to pre-tournament expectations as a fearsome front four of Kane, Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka is yet to click.

Southgate’s men put in a disjointed display in a 1-1 draw with Denmark after edging past Serbia 1-0 to open their tournament in Germany.

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Under Southgate, England have reached a final, semi-final and quarter-final in the past three major tournaments.

But the 53-year-old raised questions over his future beyond Euro 2024 by saying in a pre-tournament interview with German publication Bild that he would be unlikely to keep his job if England do not win a first major tournament in 58 years.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Gareth and what he has done for this team and the nation. In terms of where we were and where we are now as a national team it is completely different,” said Kane.

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“There are always going to be people who criticise or doubt him but his record speaks for itself — it’s really successful with us.

“But like all of us he’s determined to take that next step and win it and that’s what we are all really determined to do.”

England have experience of going through a bumpy ride in the group stages of an international tournament, having also failed to win their second match at the previous Euros and World Cup.

Kane believes it is better to face adversity early in the tournament and make adjustments than be caught on the hop when it really matters in the knockout phase.

“We absolutely believe we can win it,” added the Bayern Munich striker.

“You can win the first two games, 3-0, 3-0, and get carried away — everyone is saying you are going to win it — and then you come up against some adversity in the first knockout game and you’re out.

“I don’t think it is a bad thing to go through a bit of a tough time to begin with, it widens the focus and makes you realise you can be a bad game away from being out of the tournament.”

Kane was replaced, along with Saka and Foden, with over 20 minutes of the game remaining against Denmark.

Southgate has pointed the finger at a series of fitness problems for England’s inability to press intensely in the tournament so far.

Kane had missed the final two matches of Bayern’s Bundesliga season due to a back problem.

But he rejected any suggestion he is not fully fit to lead the line.

“The games in the tournament I felt as fit as I have all season. I know I came off in the second game but that was down to the manager wanting to see something different and freshening up the front players,” added Kane.

“Sometimes in my experience when I’ve had bad games or games that are not up to the standard, it’s always something to look for and find a reason why.” — AFP



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