Gareth Southgate insisted the collective performances of his England players was their downfall in their 1-1 draw with Hungary rather than any tactical or individual decisions.
John Stones’ tap-in cancelled out Roland Sallai’s penalty at Wembley as the Three Lions failed to win a home qualifying match for the first time since 2012.
Southgate insists that while he’s not happy with the team performance, he needs more time to reflect on why his players weren’t able to get the better of Hungary.
“[It was a] disappointing performance. Hungary, full credit to them, they caused us a tactical problem. We weren’t fluid and I didn’t think we played at the level we needed to play, simple as that,” he told ITV.
“It’s difficult to pinpoint [why England weren’t at that level], obviously we’ll go away and think about the balance of the team a little bit, but I think individually we can be better as well, and I think we made lots of simple mistakes with the ball.”
Southgate opted to start Mason Mount and Phil Foden in a midfield three alongside Declan Rice for the first time, and the trio all looked below-par on Tuesday. But Southgate says that it takes time for these on-field relationships to develop.
“I think we’ve got to go away and reflect. We shouldn’t just judge things on one game in terms of that sort of experiment because I think right across the board we weren’t sharp with our play, we gave the ball away, we were overrunning things,” he added. “I just think we were underneath it but i think for the first time in a long time we have to hold our hands up to that.”
Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling were withdrawn late on as England went in search of a winner, and when asked if the duo’s slow starts to the season at club level had carried over into the international break, Southgate insisted the problems were on the team and not individual players.
“I don’t think we should look at individuals because I think collectively we didn’t perform at the level we needed to, and when you have that sort of situation it’s difficult for individuals.”