Southgate admits World Cup sack fears: ‘I’m not foolish, a contract won’t protect me’



G

areth Southgate has acknowledged that his England contract will not protect him from the sack if his side underwhelm in Qatar this winter and says he is “realistic” about his chances of seeing out his deal until 2024.

Southgate’s previous contract was due to expire after this winter’s World Cup but in November he agreed a new deal to lead England until after the next European Championship, having guided them to the final of Euro 2020 last summer.

The manager is under pressure ahead England’s final game before the World Cup against Germany on Monday after being booed by supporters for the second game running following the 1-0 defeat to Italy in Milan on Friday.

The result condemned England to Nations League relegation and left them without a win in five competitive games for the first time since 1992.

Asked about his post-World Cup plans, Southgate said: “I am not foolish. My sole focus at the moment is to get the team right for [the Germany game] tomorrow and then we are focusing on a good performance and a good result.

“I know ultimately I will be judged on what happens at that World Cup. Contracts are irrelevant in football because managers can have three, four, five-year contracts and you accept that if results are not good enough it is time to go your separate ways.

“Why would I be any different? I am not arrogant enough to think that my contract is going to protect me in any way.”

There were boos when Southgate went to applaud the travelling fans in the San Siro on Friday while he was mocked by supporters at Molineux during England’s last home game, the 4-0 defeat to Hungary at Molineux in June.

The Football Association remain resolutely behind the 52-year-old, who also led England to the semi-final of the last World Cup in Russia, and there is no question he will be sacked before Qatar – even if the Three Lions fail to win for a sixth competitive match for the first time in history.

“I am absolutely appreciative of [the FA’s support],” Southgate added.

“But of course we understand how the mood changes with the results and has changed. I am realistic about that and I will be judged on what we do in Qatar and I am perfectly happy to be judged in that way.

“History is history and you are judged on the next match and the next tournament.”

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