Gareth Southgate admits he had to be “hyper-critical” of his team’s performance in their 6-1 rout of Panama on Sunday.
The Three Lions cruised to victory in Nizhny Novgorod to secure their progress to the knock-out stages of the World Cup with a group game to spare.
- FIFA 2018 World Cup
- Sunday 24 June 2018
- Nizhny Novgorod
- Live on BBC
An early John Stones header got things rolling, before a Jesse Lingard screamer, a pair of Harry Kane penalties and a second goal for Stones put Southgate's side 5-0 up at the break. Kane completed his treble in the second half to make it six, before the Central Americans scored a late consolation goal.
“I’m just being hypercritical, but I didn’t particularly like the performance really,” admitted the England manager.
“I didn’t like the start and I didn’t like the goal at the end, but I guess the bits in the middle were pretty good.
“We looked a little bit anxious at the start because it was a difficult challenge against six at the back and three in midfield and then they pressed well off that.
“But once we’d worked that out, I thought we played some really good stuff for 35 or 40 minutes.
“The second half is very difficult, no matter what you say to the players at half time, at 5-0 up.
“We spoke about the importance of one more goal to be top of the group and that’s why the goal we conceded at the end is disappointing.
“But for everybody, after the work we’ve put in for the last four weeks, it was rewarding to see how they’re playing and enjoying their football and I’m sure everybody at home enjoyed it as well which is great.
“Confidence-wise, it was important for the lads to know that they can score goals and for Jesse Lingard especially.
“And it was great for the captain [Kane] to get a hat-trick, so he didn’t get the hump with me when I brought him off! I’m sure he would’ve liked to have stayed on, but we’ve got to involve all of the squad and there were some challenges flying around.”
The squad now return to their base camp in Repino, where thoughts will turn to Thursday’s final group game against Belgium.
Both nations have won their opening two games to qualify for the knock-out stages, meaning the match in Kaliningrad will decide who goes through to the last 16 as top dogs.
It also means Southgate could potentially look at rotating his squad, with six members of his 23-man group yet to make an appearance in Russia.
“We want to keep momentum so we’ll have a think about the team we want to put out,” he revealed.
“There is an opportunity for players who need a match because they’ve not played for a while, but also we want to keep winning matches so it’s a nice decision to have.”Have you enjoyed England’s World Cup adventure? Why not join the England Supporters Club? It’s free and you’ll get some great offers and ticket priority.