Thursday 22 November 2018

England players rip into each other during heated half-time inquest against Switzerland

England's Kyle Walker, Marcus Rashford, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Maguire look on as the prepare to take a free-kick Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
England's Kyle Walker, Marcus Rashford, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Maguire look on as the prepare to take a free-kick Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Matt Law

England’s players laid into each other during a stormy half-time inquest before a Marcus Rashford goal clinched victory over Switzerland.

Rashford’s second-half volley meant Gareth Southgate’s team ended their three-game losing run and avoided becoming the first England side to suffer four consecutive defeats.

But it needed the players to deliver some home truths to each other to shake England into action after Xherdan Shaqiri had hit the outside of the post in a first half that Switzerland dominated.

“We could have been two or three nil down at half time,” said Danny Rose. “Our first-half performance was embarrassing, but it's great we can all shout at each other and tell each other to improve like we did. In the end, we are over the moon to keep a clean sheet and get back to winning ways.”

Harry Maguire added: “There were a few words spoken between the boys at half time, the pressing was bits and bobs, the gaffer had a stern word with us.

“We struggled early on in the game but we want to be confident in playing from the back and we did it better in the second half. We do not want to give chances and goals away. We had to stop the rot after three straight defeats and kept a clean sheet too.”

Southgate made nine changes for the Switzerland game and revealed that he was not in the dressing room when the players launched into each other.

“We always give them (the players) the first three or four minutes to themselves,” said Southgate. “They were frustrated after the first half. I always knew that was a risk today.

“But the players needed the game. They dug in through that tough period and we were able to make some tactical changes at half-time and put some physically sharper players on. The first half was quite predictable really.

“We always encourage them to have a voice. It's important they feel close enough that they can get on to each other. Then we have to make sure that doesn't boil over. But it was quite calm by the time we got in there.

“That's a good sign there's some leadership in the group. They recognise when they want to be better. Today they were harsh on themselves. To expect each other to be as sharp as they might be on their first starts is a bit unrealistic.”

Southgate defended his decision to send on Harry Kane for the final half-an-hour, despite having warned that the striker could suffer burn-out if he is overplayed.

“He’s going to be going back into matches at his club,” said Southgate. “He’s had three days of little training, so half-an-hour was perfect to keep him ticking over. To have 30 minutes, no big issue.

“If he hadn't come on, he'd have done some running on the pitch after the match. We wanted to finish the game strongly. We had a real jigsaw of minutes to piece together, when to put people on or take them off, and we’ve got them through the game.”

On England ending their losing run, Southgate added: “I have a feeling we might be sitting here next month talking about a fourth competitive defeat before the next match. It's important as a group to get a win against a top10 team. That's a pleasing fact.

“We know the performance could have been better. We also know that, on Saturday against Spain, we could have feasibly ended with a draw which would have looked different as well.

“The players have given everything through a really difficult period. It was going to be tough mentally to switch back from the World Cup to these games, physically for all the players, and with two tough games to play. It's not been a perfect week by any means, but it's a win.”

Online Editors

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