Gareth Southgate has accepted responsibility for England’s humbling 4-0 defeat to Hungary on Tuesday night, admitting he is anticipating an ‘unpleasant and uncomfortable’ period as manager.
The Three Lions were soundly beaten by their visitors at Molineux, courtesy of a brace from Roland Sallai and late strikes from Zsolt Nagy and substitute Daniel Gazdag. A sellout home crowd eventually lost patience, with chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ ringing around the stadium.
The result constitutes England’s worst home defeat since 1928, and their biggest loss overall since 1964.
Speaking after the humiliation, Southgate accepted the blame for the performance and was said he was prepared for the criticism that would come his way.
“I’ve got to accept that the next period will be unpleasant and uncomfortable, but you’re never going to have six years like we’ve had and not have difficult nights,” he said.
“I knew the role before I took it. I would say [the change in tone] has happened over 10 days, not 11 months, but I saw all my predecessors go through that and I know great people like Sir Bobby Robson, what he had to go through and how he was viewed in the end on getting the team to a World Cup semi-final.
“Football is emotional, people pay to come and watch, will give an opinion. The team weren’t able to deliver tonight, that’s my responsibility so if the flak comes my way I have to deal with that.”
Southgate continued: “It’s a chastening night. We’ve not lost many matches and when you lose so heavily with England it’s going to be very, very painful.
“I feel for [the players] because, in the two Hungary games in particular, I picked teams where I tried to balance the squad, give young players opportunities, and I didn’t get the balance right for them to perform at the level they needed to win those matches.
“The players have been fantastic,” the manager added. “The responsibility lies with me. It was very difficult to put the strongest team out in every game so we used it to prepare for Qatar. But of course a night like tonight is very difficult and it’s important to take that off their shoulders because it’s totally down to me.”