Gareth Southgate says he needs time to reflect before signing a new contract with England after their heart-breaking penalty shootout loss to Italy in the final of Euro 2020.
England and Italy could not split after 120 minutes, despite the Azzurri dominating possession. But Italy made their experience tell in the shootout and triumphed 3-2 on penalties.
Bukayo Saka was guilty of the crucial miss which handed the trophy to Italy, but speaking on Monday morning at a press conference Southgate insisted the Arsenal mad had the support of all the squad.
Southgate said: “We heal together as a team now, and we’re there for them, and I know that 99 per cent of the public will be as well.
“Bukayo in particular has been an absolute star in this tournament, incredible maturity and the way he has played has brought a smile to so many people’s faces. He’s become such a popular member of the group and I know he has got everybody’s support.”
Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham said during Euro 2020 that he wants to hand Southgate a new deal.
Southgate’s current deal is set to conclude after the Qatar 2022 World Cup in 18 months’ time.
Southgate said: “I don’t think now is an appropriate time to think about anything.
“We have got to qualify for Qatar. But I need some time to go away and watch the game and reflect on the whole tournament, I need a rest.
“It is an amazing experience but to lead your country in these tournaments takes it toll and I need a break now.”
Southgate has said he wants to lead the team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“I said at the time it is great to have that internal support, you greatly value that as a manager.
“I don’t want to commit to anything longer than I should. And I don’t want to outstay my welcome so all of those things need consideration.
“I want to take the team to Qatar. I feel we have made progress over the four years, we have had a fourth, a third and a second-placed finish and that is as good as anyone.”
Southgate also said it was too early to be able to reflect on the positives of the journey to the final.
“I know in time we will have an appreciation of that and I know the messages we are getting underline that,” he said.
Southgate rejects ‘too nice’ theories
“But when you are in sport and you get to a final you know those opportunities are rare and to be so close and to know what that has taken and know you have to pick up and go again, that is very hard the day after.
“We will go again of course.”
Southgate also rejected the theory that England are too nice to win major tournaments.
“I don’t see that really, we got to a final for the first time in 55 years,” he said. “I am not really sure…you’re not a nice team to get to a final.
“We have overcome a lot of hurdles that we have been unable to in the past.
“If we had been torn apart or been a mess then I might look at it differently. It is easy to throw theories around at the end of any tournament. But it is important to analyse correctly when you are a coach.
“I don’t want to go along with theories that I don’t think are correct.”