Gareth Southgate hits out at ‘unusual environment’ as plastic cups thrown at him

Gareth Southgate said there was a “unusual environment” around the England team after supporters threw plastic beer cups towards him following the dismal 0-0 draw against Slovenia that secured their progress to the last-16 of Euro 2024 as group winners.

There was a chorus of boos from the England fans at full-time in Cologne, with further grumblings towards the players as they made their way towards the corner flag to applaud the supporters.

But there was a fresh wave of boos reserved for Southgate as the manager approached the England end, which continued as he walked along the goal and applauded the supporters in Cologne.

A couple of fans went further and threw their plastic pint glasses in Southgate’s direction, landing short of the England manager as he made his way across the penalty area. Despite the jeers, Southgate continued to applaud the fans.

Southgate said he was aware of the jeers, as well as the projectiles thrown his way, and suggested the “unusual environment” around the team was not helping ahead of the knockout stages of the tournament and had been caused by increased expectations of his side.

England arrived at Euro 2024 as one of the favourites but have so far failed to live up to that tag on the pitch, with two poor displays in draws against Denmark and Slovenia following the 1-0 opening win against Serbia in Group D.

“I understand it,” Southgate said when asked about the reaction from the England fans. “I’m not going to back away from it. The most important thing is that the supporters stay with the team.

“I understand the narrative towards me and that’s better for the team if [criticism] is towards me and not them, but it’s creating an unusual environment for us to operate in.

“I’ve not seen similar [reactions] towards the other teams who have qualified. I’m proud with how the players are handling it.”

When asked further about what was “different” about the environment around the England team, Southgate said: “The expectation. We’ve made England fun again and it’s been enjoyable for the players. We have to be very careful that it remains that way.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Southgate said the mood around the side took him back to when he was playing for the national team but praised how his team dealt with the occasion and said England showed an “improvement” on previous displays.

“I’m in a really good place,” Southgate said when asked about how he was coping with the negative reaction. “I recognise that when there are moments at the end of the game, I’m not going to back down.

“They might feel different towards me, but we’re not going to win anything unless we’re together. I get it, I’ve been around England for 20 years. My job is to guide England through this.”