Gareth Southgate insists that England, ranked as one of the tournament favorites, will enter Euro 2024 prepared to manage the expectations that accompany such a status.
In Saturday night’s draw in Hamburg, the England boss and his players were drawn into Group C for next summer’s finals in Germany, facing Denmark, Serbia, and Slovenia.
Since taking over in 2016, Southgate has led a transformation of England’s fortunes, guiding them to a first World Cup semi-final since 1990 in the 2018 tournament in Russia and a historic Euro final appearance in 2021.
With further progress evident in the December run to the World Cup quarter-finals, the team is considered strong contenders to secure silverware, boosted significantly by the contributions of Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham and Bayern Munich sharpshooter Harry Kane.
“They are used to playing in big matches and have produced regularly,” Southgate said.
“They are used to playing in big matches together and individually, so we are excited and all looking forward to the summer.
“We feel the squad has been building for a period of time and England are going to be competitive for the foreseeable future as you look at the young players coming through. When we started at St George’s Park it is what we wanted to happen.
“If you are continually in those latter stages, most teams that win go close and then get there.”
Southgate doesn’t take their Euro 2024 opponents lightly
Southgate also vividly recalls a previous encounter with Slovenia. In October 2016, during his second match as interim manager, England faced Slovenia in a qualifier for the 2018 World Cup. On that day, England managed to secure a point in a hard-fought 0-0 draw, and Southgate views it as a pivotal moment in his tenure as England manager.
“Slovenia takes me back to one of my first games as manager where but for Joe Hart plucking out one of the best saves I’ve ever seen, I wouldn’t be standing here and I would probably still be a caretaker, but at something else,” he said.
Asked about England finalising their team base and pre-tournament friendlies, Southgate told: “Today allows us to take those plans to the next stage.
“Definitely the friendlies we’ve got an idea on dates, but we can now look at the opponents with more detail.
“Similar with the base camp. We know now where our matches will be played, so we can start to cement those plans in the next few days.”