England boss Southgate on boos: Fans need to stick with team

Gareth Southgate has questioned the “unusual environment” around the England team after they booed off against Slovenia despite topping Group C and urged supporters to back the team “however they feel towards me.”

The Three Lions mustered just four shots on target in another underwhelming performance at these finals, but still left Cologne as group winners thanks to Denmark playing out their own stalemate with Serbia.

England were booed at half-time and full-time at the RheinEnergieSTADION. When Southgate went to applaud the England fans after the end of the game, some reacted positively but others booed and a few beer cups were thrown in his direction.

Southgate’s current contract with the Football Association expires in December and a decision will be taken on his future after the finals. Some fans have questioned whether he is still the right man to lead England after eight years in charge and Southgate said of the full-time reaction: “I understand it. I’m not going to back away from it. The most important thing here is that the supporters stay with the team.

“I understand the narrative towards me and that’s better for than it being towards them. But it is creating an unusual environment to operate in. I’ve not seen any team qualify and receive similar.

“I recognise that when you have moments at the end of the game, I’m asking the players to be fearless, I’m not going to back down from going over and thanking the fans who were brilliant during the game.

“They might feel differently towards me. But for me, we only will succeed if we are together. That energy is crucial for the team and it is so important they stay with the team, however they feel towards me.”

Asked what had changed about the environment around the team, Southgate replied: “I think probably expectation. We’ve made England over the last six or seven years fun again. I think it has been enjoyable for the players. We’ve got to be very, very careful that it stays that way.”

Despite the response from some fans, England captain Harry Kane said he thought there was an improved performance from the team’s previous display in a 1-1 draw with Denmark.

“That was the aim before the start of the tournament, come top of the group and control our destiny,” he told ITV. “I thought we played a lot better than the other games. We couldn’t just find that finish but we look forward to the next one.

“We created some half chances and there were some that we could maybe have done better.

“I think the boys who came on did really well and kept the energy high and that’s what we need. We need everyone chipping in and that’s what we are doing so far.

“These games are tough. We have been here before and stepped it up in the past when we have got to the knockouts. All games in this tournament are tough. It is going to be a difficult challenge ahead and we have enough ability to keep pushing.”

England must wait to learn their round-of-16 opponents but will play one of the four best third-placed in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.