Valletta - Gareth Southgate tried to assuage fans'
disappointment at England's lacklustre performance in a flattering 4-0 win over
minnows Malta in their 2018 Soccer World Cup qualifier saying it was nothing new.
The 46-year-old - who saw late goals by Ryan Bertrand, Danny
Welbeck and a second for Harry Kane put a brighter hue on the scoreline - said
he had experienced similar frustrations as a player in qualifiers.
The victory - Southgate's first away win and only England's
second in their last six encounters - kept them two points clear in the group.
England can all but seal their place in Russia with another
three points in Monday's match with second-placed Slovakia at Wembley.
"I understand if we don't score until late, the game
feels different for everybody," said Southgate.
"But I've played in so many qualifiers and watched so
many qualifiers, and I don't remember many of them being free-flowing,
champagne football. It just hasn't happened, especially when there's no space
"You have got to work your way into the
The England supporters - over 3 000 were present in Malta -
had jeered, whistled and chanted at half-time with the side ranked 190th in the
world locked at 0-0 and England looking unimaginative and very ordinary.
However, Southgate said unlike the supporters he had been
impressed at how the players had stuck to the task.
Referring to the fans' displeasure, Southgate said:
"Look, I think we have to accept that.
"However, I'm really pleased with what the players have
done because they've kept their focus, kept calm, they haven't taken on
ridiculous shots from outside the box, which I have seen us do, which relieves
"In the end, the build-up of pressure opposition mounts
and you get your goals."
Southgate, who was capped 57 times but is perhaps best
remembered for a missed penalty in the Euro '96 semi-final shoot-out with
eventual winners Germany, said that while the fans may be disappointed with the
overall performance he and the squad had got the job done.
"We spoke before the game that if Germany were playing
here, we'd probably look at the score and see 4-0 or something like that and
think they've done a professional job," he said.
"In the end, that's what we've done in the end. It has
taken a while to get the goals, but that's a consequence of dominating the
game, over 70 percent possession."