Declan Rice and Gareth Southgate have both moved to reassure England fans ahead of the World Cup in November, after a 1-0 defeat to Italy in Rome condemned them to Nations League relegation.
The Three Lions had a horrid June, losing two and drawing two of their four Nations League clashes, which left them needing to beat Italy and Germany to stand any chance of avoiding the drop into the second tier of the competition.
However, a tepid display against Italy, a side that haven’t even qualified for the 2022 World Cup, saw them fall to a 1-0 defeat courtesy of a Giacomo Raspadori strike just after the hour mark.
It meant that, after five games of the Nations League, England are one of just two teams yet to score a goal from open play, with minnows San Marino the other side to manage this feat.
In fact, Southgate’s side have not scored from open play in over 450 minutes (7.5 hours) of international football, all of which is coming to a head just under 2 months before they play Iran in their World Cup opener.
Despite this, however, both the England boss and first choice midfielder Declan Rice have backed them to come out of the slump, even going as far as to claim that their limp performance deserved better against Italy.
“It’s difficult for me to be too critical of the performance”, Southgate told the media after the game.
“We had more possession, more shots, more shots on target. For large parts of the game we played very well,”
“It’s a spell where ultimately results are going to be the thing that everyone reacts to but I thought there were a lot of positives for us as a team tonight”, he added.
“Lots of good individual performances. I personally thought the performance is a step in the right direction. I completely understand because of the result that is not going to be the reaction.”
Meanwhile, Declan RIce was of a similar mindset, adding that ”It’s obviously disappointing. Every tournament we go in, we want to win the group and progress and win every game. We’ve slipped below our standards.”
“I see it in training, there’s goals for fun. Trust me, we’re gonna be good”, the West Ham man continued.
And, while there is little chance of Southgate being shown the door before the upcoming tournament, questions continue to swirl around the Three Lions.