Gareth Southgate not yet sure he has enough ‘energy’ to continue as England boss

‘Absolutely gutted’ Harry Kane vows to get stronger from World Cup heartbreak

England have begun their journey home from Qatar as Gareth Southgate deliberates over his future in the wake of the crushing World Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of France.

Harry Kane scored one penalty and missed another against the reigning champions on Saturday night in a 2-1 defeat for the Euro 2020 runners-up. England’s wait to emulate Alf Ramsey’s 1966 heroes goes on as attention turns to manager Southgate as he processes the last-eight loss and ponders his future.

The 52-year-old has a contract until the European Championship in 2024 but wants to ensure he has the energy required to go again and that the decision is right for the team.

“I think whenever I finish these tournaments, I’ve needed time to make correct decisions,” manager Southgate said. “Emotionally you go through so many different feelings. The energy it takes through these tournaments is enormous.


“I want to make the right decision, whatever that is for the team, for England, for the FA. I’ve got to be sure whatever decision I make is the right one. I think it’s right to take time to do that because I know in the past my feelings have fluctuated in the immediate aftermath of tournaments.”

Put to him that he has the kind of talented players that may tempt him to stay, Southgate said: “No, of course. We’ve always wanted to develop a group that can sustain the types of tournaments that we’ve had. I think we are continuing to do that.

“It’s more, you know, the decisions around ... to go again is a lot of energy and you’ve got to make sure you are ready for that. There’s qualifiers in March. Tonight there is too much in my head to think logically about any of that.

“I wanted to focus totally on this tournament and to approach it in the way that we have. I think we have given a really good account of ourselves to the rest of the world. But, in the end, only one team wins and we wanted to win. Tonight we have just fallen short.”

Southgate gave a hug to Kieran Trippier and thanked those working with the team during their 26-day stay at Souq Al Wakra before boarding the staff coach for the airport on Sunday.

Players began leaving in dribs and drabs that morning, with Jack Grealish, Harry Maguire, Phil Foden and Trent Alexander-Arnold among the first seen departing their Qatar base.

Jude Bellingham signed autographs for fans before getting on to the main players’ coach, with captain Kane, Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford among those who were not seen leaving.

Flanked by police, the two coaches headed to Doha Airport at 12.35pm local time to catch a flight bound for Birmingham.

In a social media post on Sunday morning Kane promised to bounce back from the disappointment: “Absolutely gutted. We’ve given it everything and it’s come down to a small detail which I take responsibility for. There’s no hiding from it, it hurts and it’ll take some time to get over it but that’s part of sport. Now it’s about using the experience to be mentally and physically stronger for the next challenge. Thanks for all the support throughout the tournament – it means a lot.”

English Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham was on the staff coach having expressed pride at the team’s efforts.

“Like all England fans we feel the pain of losing a quarter-final, along with the coaches, players and support team who are hurting this morning,” he said in a statement.

“Gareth and Steve (Holland) prepared the team exceptionally well throughout the tournament. The players were committed to winning the trophy and were very well led by Harry Kane. But sport can have fine margins and on the day, against the current world champions, it was not to be.

“This is a very exciting young English squad and, despite the intense disappointment of last night, they should be very proud of their performances in Qatar. We are incredibly proud of Gareth, the players, the coaches and the support team and appreciate all the hard work they put in.”