Gareth Southgate reckons England’s shock defeat to the Czech Republic is proof that they’ve still got a very long way to go to become “a really top team”.
The Czech Republic emerged 2-1 winners on Friday night to deny Southgate’s men qualification for Euro 2020. Meanwhile, England’s proud 43-match unbeaten in qualifying games finally ended after a decade.
Although things didn’t look that way at the beginning of the match after Harry Kane’s fifth-minute penalty put England ahead.
But it proved to be the only real highlight in an otherwise dreadful performance in Prague, with Jakub Brabec and Zdenek Ondrasek’s goals handing the Czech Republic all three points in Group A.
However, England can still book a spot in the Euro 2020 tournament next summer by beating Bulgaria on Monday.
For Southgate, though, the team’s display in Prague served as a wake-up call for how far they’ve still got to go.
“Clearly that’s not a night that we wanted to be a part of in terms of that record,” the Three Lions boss told reporters.
“We didn’t play well enough, simple as that. We conceded possession of the ball too cheaply.
“Particularly in the first half, we didn’t create enough chances. Second half we had some good chances that we didn’t take and throughout the night we were too open out of possession.
“Some of that was because of giving the ball away. So we gave the Czechs, who played well, got to give them credit, we gave them too many opportunities to score.”
England’s defensive problems, meanwhile, were again exposed with centre-backs Michael Keane and Harry Maguire looking unconvincing.
“I think whatever the balance, we didn’t use the ball well enough,” continued Southgate.
“And in terms of a wake-up call, I think we’ve had a lot of plaudits. I think we’ve always maintained that there’s a lot of work to be done to be a really top team.
“I think tonight was clear evidence of that. We have to respond in the right way.”
Captain Harry Kane shared a similar view to Southgate’s by conceding it was a “sloppy” performance from England.