An impressive Three Lions campaign came to a heartbreaking halt at Qatar’s Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday night after Harry Kane surprisingly blazed over a late penalty chance to restore parity against holders France.
The England skipper had earlier returned home to equal Wayne Rooney’s all-time record for his country and nullify Aurelien Tchouameni’s long-range strike but was unable to repeat the feat after Olivier’s header Giroud in a crushing defeat at Al Khor. .
Attention will now quickly turn to Southgate’s future, with the boss leaving him uncertain in his immediate post-match interview.
“I think after every tournament we sat down, reviewed and reflected,” Southgate told ITV Sport. “It takes a bit of time to make sure everyone makes the right decision.”
Southgate is under contract with the Football Association (FA) until December 2024 following an extension signed last November and had another impressive run in a major tournament that included eye-catching wins over Senegal, Wales and Iran.
He also led England to the Euro 2020 final on home soil last summer and the World Cup semi-finals in Russia four years ago in an unprecedented run in major competitions, but the Southgate’s stock among fans notably plummeted between tournaments with a disastrous run of form and embarrassing Nations League campaign.
The likes of Luke Shaw had spoken of their desire to see Southgate stay in the role whatever the outcome against France, thoughts that were quickly echoed by the likes of Kane, Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker after the whistle at full-time.
“It’s up to him,” Kane said of the manager’s future. “We love having him as a manager, I think he’s been amazing. When you see where he’s taken us to where we are now, it’s an incredible leap. I think we all hope let him stay, but it’s his decision.
“He’s obviously going to go away and see this again, before we know it we’ll be preparing for the Euros.”
“The players love Gareth,” said Maguire, who nearly scored in the second half against France with a header that grazed the post. “From one to 11, the players love Gareth.
“He’s been amazing with all of us, his man management skills, the way he’s set us up. I know a lot of people have different opinions because he’s the England manager and when he chooses the team, there are always players who shouldn’t be there and players who should be there.
“And then when he picks his starting XI, again he gets a lot of stick. It is the privilege of being the manager of England. But you can see how far this team has come in this management period. He knows what it takes to win those big matches.
Walker – who said he should now review his own international future – added: “That’s not for me to discuss. For me personally he’s fantastic, a great man and a great coach. He has a great group of players.
“Whatever he thinks is the right decision is up to him. But the guys are fully behind him.