England players urged to ignore the media ‘narrative’ as Phil Foden backed

News Desk
England manager Gareth Southgate smiles after a win
Gareth Southgate smiles after a win

Gareth Southgate has spoken to his players about dealing with tournament background noise as England look to seal Euro 2024 progress with a game to spare.

England began with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Serbia on Sunday thanks to Jude Bellingham’s early header but lost control of the match, leading to much debate ahead of their second outing against Denmark.

Southgate has long since learned to ignore such talk, with this his fourth – and perhaps final – tournament as manager, having gone to four more as a player.

Social media can make it harder for modern-day footballers to focus on the matter at hand but the England boss has been trying to keep the focus on what is important ahead of facing Denmark.

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“There’s going to be a narrative around a player, a couple of players after every England game,” Southgate said, praising Phil Foden for doing an “exceptional job” against Serbia despite some onlookers questioning his display.

“This is a different world to the one you experience at clubs. The players as a collective recognise that now after the last couple of days. We talked with them about it.

“It’s very rare at their club they’d win a game and experience what they’ve experienced over the last couple of days.

“I have to make sure I can guide them through that, let them understand it and recognise it’s the reality of our world but that we shouldn’t be thrown off track by it.

“We’re in a good position, we know we want to play better, there are lot of things we did really well and we move towards tomorrow’s game.”

Vice-captain Kyle Walker sat alongside Southgate in Frankfurt, where England will seal a place in the knockout phase if they beat Denmark.

“If you have outside noise, whether you view that positively or negatively, people take it in different ways,” the Manchester City right-back said.

“I would rather not see it and just concentrate on what’s in the camp, what the gaffer says and what my mum says!

“She always tells me I have a good game, so I just listen to her and go from there.”

Southgate’s side beat Thursday’s opponents at the semi-final stage on their way to reaching a first Euros final, with Harry Kane scoring in extra-time after seeing a penalty saved that Denmark felt should not have been given in the first place.

The Danes downplayed talk of revenge but Southgate has spoken to his players about it possibly providing motivation for a side looking to bounce back from drawing with Slovenia.

“We are very clear on the messaging we give to the players and what the mindset of an opponent might be and what motivations they might have,” Southgate said.

“I think it’s an important part of psychologically preparing our team, so we are always well aware of that narrative and preparing the players for it if they weren’t aware of it anyway.”