Foden 'feels sorry' for Southgate after England criticism

Phil Foden insists England’s best players need to take responsibility for a string of poor performances at Euro 2024 and said he “feels sorry” for under-fire manager Gareth Southgate.

England are ramping up preparations for their quarter-final clash with Switzerland in Dusseldorf on Saturday night having stumbled through to the last eight.

Southgate’s side topped Group C with just five points following some dour displays and then needed a stoppage-time Jude Bellingham overhead kick to take their last-16 clash with Slovakia to extra-time, where Harry Kane headed home the winner.

The path to a semi-final spot now sees England face Switzerland, who have already eliminated reigning champions Italy.

‘Players have to take some of the blame’

Phil Foden and Gareth Southgate
Foden says he “feels sorry” for Southgate and wants the leaders in the England squad to step up

It is likely to need a much-improved performance from England as Foden admits he and his team-mates have fallen short of expectations so far.

“I feel like the players have got to take some of the blame,” the Manchester City forward said.

“There has to be some leaders to get together and find out a solution to why it is not working. There is only so much the manager can do. He sets you up in a system and tells you how to press. If it is not going like that you have to.”

With club managers like Pep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta and Jurgen Klopp having worked closely with a number of the players in the current England squad, criticism for negative performances in Germany has largely fallen on the shoulders of Southgate.

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Gareth Southgate reflects on England’s shaky victory over Slovakia to proceed to the Euro 2024 quarter-finals and what he looks to do to maintain spirit and improve performances.

“I feel sorry for Gareth,” added Foden when asked about the pressure on the manager.

“He has not set out to do that. In training he has been telling us to press and be high up on the pitch and I feel like sometimes, it has to come from the players.

“We have to be leaders and I feel like in those games we could have got together a little bit more and worked out a solution.

“So yes, I feel like we have spoken about it more and if it happens again in a game, we can get together and find a solution and see where it is going wrong and adapt our press.”

Foden keen to change narrative around England performances

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Former Three Lions defender Gary Neville believes England have to step up and take risks if they are to overcome Switzerland in the quarter-finals as the Swiss have been impressive in the tournament so far.

Foden travelled home after the final group game and the victory over Slovakia for the birth of his third child and joked he was “30 seconds away from doing baby feeds at home” before Bellingham’s late strike in Gelsenkirchen.

While Bellingham now has two goals in four games at the Euros, Foden is still yet to replicate his club form when in an England shirt but he is keen to change that narrative in the coming weeks.

“I’ve not been the best player in the Premier League to come here and not show it,” said the 24-year-old.

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England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford says fans need to keep believing in Gareth Southgate’s side and admits they need the nation to get behind them.

“So I feel like every game I’m moving little steps at a time forward and hopefully I can put in good performances for England, that’s always been my aim to show it for national team.

“The first game was very quiet, in terms of how the game went I didn’t have much going forward for myself. I feel like the next games after that I grew. I came close a few times – I was offside in the last game just.

“Against Denmark I hit the post. I feel like my performances from the first game have improved a lot and if they go in no-one’s saying anything and that’s just the way football is.”

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The Independent’s Miguel Delaney and David Ornstein of The Athletic discuss whether England will revert to a back three against Switzerland.

Drifting centrally has often seen Foden occupy very similar positions on the pitch to Bellingham, with questions asked whether the duo can coexist in the same England team – but Foden was bullish when such suggestions were put to him.

“I don’t agree with that, I feel we do work good together,” he added.

“It’s just the way the games have gone sometimes and the way football works, I feel like the last game we did build on it really well, in terms of keeping the ball a lot more, we piled pressure on the end, I feel like it can hopefully click together in the last game.”

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