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Southgate regrets the ‘unusual’ atmosphere after the boos in England

Gareth Southgate complained about the “unusual” atmosphere in England after the Three Lions boss was pelted with cups while his players booed following the lackluster 0-0 draw against Slovenia at the 2024 European Championship.

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Southgate’s side finished top of Group C despite a third successive disappointing performance that was greeted with disdain by their fans in Cologne.

While the Slovenian players and fans on the other side of the stadium celebrated wildly after reaching the knockout stages, Southgate and his players were greeted with cheers as they trudged towards the England supporters.

Southgate was targeted with beer cups that missed the Three Lions boss but clearly left an impression on his psyche.

After days of criticism from former England players following a dull 1-1 draw with Denmark, Southgate’s team’s latest flop threatens to create an even more toxic atmosphere as they reach the last 16.

Southgate implored England fans to create a positive atmosphere around the team, saying: “I haven’t seen any other team qualify and receive a similar response. I am very proud of the players, how they deal with it.

“The players remained calm in a match when they were put in a really challenging environment. It took me back to when I played for England.

“I’m not going to shy away from it. I understand the story towards me, better for me than towards them. It creates an unusual atmosphere to work in.”

Southgate claimed England’s relative success during his eight-year reign, including a runners-up finish at Euro 2020 and a 2018 World Cup semi-final appearance, had raised expectations that his team are currently unable to meet.

– ‘I’m not going backwards’ –

“I think probably expectation,” he said when asked why the mood in the stands had changed.

“We have made England fun again over the past six years. It was fun for the players and we have to be very careful that it stays that way.”

Southgate, whose contract expires at the end of this year, has hinted he will leave the England job if they do not win the European Championship.

But he was confident he would remain positive despite the barrage of negativity surrounding England’s spluttering campaign.

“I’m in a very good place. I ask the players to be fearless and I won’t shy away from thanking the fans,” he said.

“The fans were exceptional with the team in the second half, that makes such a difference.

“It’s so important that they stay with the team, regardless of what they think about me. I have been in England for twenty years. I’ve seen it. I understand.”

The toothless Three Lions have won just two of their last eight games and scored just twice in their three games at the European Championship.

But Southgate was eager for signs of improvement in the match against Slovenia.

“After what happened after the last game (against Denmark), I didn’t think we would be free and liberated and score six goals,” he said.

“But we have shown some encouraging signs. We held them back and got wave after wave of attack.

“Of course we would have liked to have had a few goals. It’s certainly an improvement over the previous game. We must continue to build from here.”

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After winning the group, England could have a significantly easier path to the final than some of their title rivals.

But understandably, Southgate was in no mood to look ahead.

“It’s important to win the group because you control your own destiny,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean you get an easier draw, but people can’t accuse us of ending up with a harder draw when we didn’t win the group.”