Gareth Southgate has said that England are going into games full of confidence after proving they can compete with the best at Euro 2020 but has warned against complacency.
England are firmly in control of their World Cup qualifying group before facing Poland in Warsaw on Wednesday night and Southgate is determined to enjoy the good moments. The manager was delighted with his side’s attitude in last week’s 4-0 win over Hungary and he believes that they are determined to push on after losing to Italy in the final of the Euros.
“Without doubt there’s that confidence in the team, which can only come from the evidence of being able to achieve results and performances that have led to those results,” Southgate said. “We saw that in Hungary, the way they approached the game, the belief, but also that bit of additional motivation from not having quite got to where we wanted to. That’s a good position for us to be in.
“But that has to be worked at every day. Any slipping of those standards, any suggestion we can win matches by taking our foot off the gas, then we’ll be in trouble. The level of competition is too high. The test of any match gives you different problems to solve during the evening. While it’s enjoyable to be with this team at the moment, that also can be a dangerous moment if we allow standards to slip.”
Southgate laughed off suggestions that everything is going too well for England. They top Group I after winning their first games and are five points clear of Poland, whose attack will be led by Robert Lewandowski.
“I think we should just enjoy it while it’s going well,” Southgate said. “There’s days where you’re having a quiet day and I used to think: ‘Ok, what’s going to happen?’ You go looking for problems when actually you might as well just enjoy those days and have an extra 20 minutes on the sofa because you know the challenges will come.”
Southgate added that his contract, which expires after the World Cup in Qatar, is unlikely to become a distraction for his players. “I wouldn’t think they could care less,” he said. “They aren’t bothered who the manager is at club or country. One comes; one goes. The next one and they get on with it.
“It’s not a distraction in any way shape or form. I’ve got 14 months and if you can get through 14 weeks as a manager you have done well so it really isn’t an issue. I would imagine that we won’t even discuss that until after the autumn now.”