Gareth Southgate fired a stark warning to his jubilant team after their 6-2 win over Iran in their World Cup opener as England’s players were brought crashing back to earth with bang.
The England boss was furious with his team’s concentration during the closing stages of their victory here at the Khalifa Stadium on Monday as they conceded twice in second half to take the gloss off their victory.
And Southgate says his team can forget about winning the World Cup if that becomes a trend here in Qatar.
‘We are really pleased to have started in the way we have. Really pleased with our attacking play,’ said Southgate.
‘We know Iran are usually difficult to score goals against so that’s a credit to our players, their movement, quality of their passing, quality of our finishing.
‘But I didn’t like the end of the game, to concede two goals isn’t the form that we need. We are going to have to be better than we were today in certain aspects of our game against the USA because they are going to be coming for us full throttle and we are going to have to reset.’
England were forced to play a stunning total of 24 minutes of stoppage time overall – 14 in the first half and 10 in the second – an unusual feeling for some of the players, and Southgate said a drop in tempo was understandable.
The England boss said: ‘I don’t want games where we drift as this one did. It was difficult because there was so much added time in both halves.
‘I understand the focus drifting a little but that won’t be enough for us to progress in the tournament. So we still have a lot to do to qualify but it’s still a really good start for us.’
Generally, however, Southgate was happy with the start his team have made: ‘With the players, we’ve talked all week about setting the right tone, the right intent in our performance.
‘That came form the way we counter-pressed the ball and the way that we used the ball when we had it.
‘We mixed our game up, we didn’t just play in front of the opponent. We constantly had runs in behind and we have to be that way, we have to mix the game.
‘So, it’s a great start for us, it’s a good platform to build on, but there are things we need to be better at if we’re going progress into the latter stages.’