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Gareth Southgate responds to Erik ten Hag criticism after England win vs Serbia



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Credit: ITV / NOS

Gareth Southgate has responded to criticism from the likes of Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag following England’s 1-0 win over Serbia.

The Three Lions opened their Euro 2024 campaign with a victory, but there was a lack of comfort, which many were expecting from a side who are one of the favourites to win the tournament.

Jude Bellingham opened the scoring early on in the game, but England were unable to create much else throughout the 90 minutes, with the likes of Harry Kane and Phil Foden almost anonymous.

This prompted criticism from United boss Erik ten Hag, who was on punditry duty for Dutch television. The 54-year-old believed that Southgate’s vision is for the team to be ‘passive’ and suggested that his changes in the game were gambles.

“England were playing very passive,” the Dutchman said on Sunday evening. “I actually saw them moving backwards, they kept Serbia coming at them.

“It’s the vision of the manager. England will take a 1-0 lead, then he [Southgate] decides to start gambling with making his team compact and relying on moments for the remaining minutes of the game.”

Southgate, who had been linked with the Old Trafford job before it was confirmed that INEOS wanted Ten Hag to stay, instead believed that the lack of control was natural for a team with players who have had limited game time in recent months.

The England boss also explained that the defensive grit shown by his side is a good thing for the team going forward.

“We probably should have scored a second, yeah I think second half, we expended a lot of energy in the first half, and a lot of the players haven’t had 90 minutes for a while, so I was worried about us energy-wise and how we would be and I thought that showed a little bit,” he told reporters after the game.

“Of course, then Serbia had to come because they needed the goal, so less control, still had an excellent chance towards the end but was pleased that we had to show a different side, that we had to show that resilience to defend our box because I think as a group that really builds a huge spirit.”