Southgate: Easy draw talk shows 'entitlement'

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Gareth Southgate has dismissed suggestions that England have been handed the easier half of the Euro 2024 knockouts draw, saying the mentality shows “a sense of entitlement” that annoys other nations.

England face Switzerland in the quarterfinals on Saturday, with the winner set to face either Turkey or the Netherlands in the semifinals. Meanwhile, France, Portugal, Spain and Germany made up the opposite bracket.

“I would say that’s a classic example of the sort of entitlement we have as a nation that creates drama and annoys our opponents,” said Southgate, who will take charge of England for the 100th time on Saturday.

“We’re playing a really strong football nation who have played exceptionally well prepared, have enormous pride.

“Our focus is on ‘how do we win this game?’ And ‘how do we play it to the best of our ability?’

“We’ve never been to a final outside England. We’ve only had two finals in our history, three semifinals, so lots of nations who we might perceive as English people to be smaller have had far better records than us in terms of winning things, in terms of getting to the latter stages of finals. It’s half the problem we have.

“But we’re ready for tomorrow. As a team, we definitely have huge respect for our opponents and we know we’ve got to be our very best to be able to win the game.”

Southgate vowed England would show an improved level against Switzerland, having attracted criticism from their own fans for a series of underwhelming displays despite reaching the quarterfinals.

“There’s been a lot of expectation on the team in the early part of the tournament especially,” he said. “I feel that the team even in training now look in a different place, mentally. They look more fluid and I’m expecting us to play well tomorrow.

“I just think the longer the players are here, the more belief they have. The less they are being affected by what’s outside. They can see the opportunity. They can see on the one hand … we talked about being in camp for being 45 days when we met.

“Now that has to be just 10. So that feels much closer. But at the same time, it is still a million miles away because every game can take you on a journey like the game did the other night. You can’t for one minute be thinking of what’s next. It is all about tomorrow. We have to deliver tomorrow.”

England have been handed a selection boost with Southgate confirming left-back Luke Shaw is now available to start.

The Manchester United defender has not played for club or country since February 18 due to a hamstring problem but trained all week with England and is available with Southgate considering switching to a three-man defence for the showdown in Dusseldorf.

Asked about Shaw’s readiness and his options should he not gamble on including the left-back after five months out, Southgate talked up the contribution of Kieran Trippier who has played as a makeshift left-sided defender in England’s opening four matches.

“Kieran Trippier has been absolutely outstanding for us,” Southgate said. “Luke is available, he is available to start. But Kieran has also done a brilliant job for the team.

“He obviously doesn’t give us that balance that a natural left-footer can give you but his leadership, his communication on the pitch — if you ask any of the wingers who play with him or the players who play alongside him, his talking is phenomenal.

“It helps them to play the game. It is a much-undervalued quality. It is a bit of a dying art, really, good talkers on the pitch. You can’t have enough of them. He has exceptional qualities in that area as well as some quality on the ball. He has adapted and done a brilliant, brilliant job for us.”

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