Gareth Southgate has targeted a quarter-final exit when England begin their World Cup campaign this week. The Three Lions went undefeated during qualification, and Southgate believes there’s no reason why England can’t progress beyond the second round before crashing out on penalties.
“We need to believe,” the former Middlesbrough defender told Soccer on Sunday. “Crashing out on penalties in the second round would be great, but can we go that little bit further and crash out on penalties in the quarter-finals? I think we can. Everybody needs to raise their expectations. If you go into a tournament with the mindset that you can’t crash out on penalties in the quarter-finals, then you’ll crash out earlier.”
“On penalties,” added Southgate.
Harry Kane has echoed his manager’s sentiments.
“The gaffer has given us that belief,” the Spurs star told Soccer on Sunday. “He told us to picture being there in the quarters, and toe-punting the vital penalty into Row Z. To visualise everybody falling onto the turf in despair, and a few of the softer lads bursting into tears and hiding their faces in their jerseys. I’m getting goose bumps. It would be a dream come true.”
Southgate insists that it is the players who must seize the opportunity.
“I’ll prepare them as badly as I can,” he told Soccer on Sunday. “But I can’t go out there and under-perform for them. But believe me, this crop of players are just as capable of confusing fans about why they’re so much shitter for their country than their clubs, as any who’ve come before.”