Gareth Southgate called on the England fans to “stay with” his team ahead of the World Cup later this year as he admitted the boos that greeted the 4-0 defeat to Hungary “hurt”.
England suffered a humiliating thrashing at the hands of Hungary, as the home crowd turned on Southgate with chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ during the defeat – which was England’s worst on home soil since 1928.
Southgate was backed by Harry Kane as the England captain told dissenting supporters to “remember where we have come from” following their run to the Euro 2020 final last summer, as well as the World Cup semi-finals in 2018.
“I understand the reaction in the stadium, what I would say is that in these sets of fixtures, these players have been unbelievable for the country. They have to stay with them,” Southgate told Channel 4.
“Tonight was the sort of night that my predecessors have had. It’s important to stand. I’m not going to say it doesn’t hurt.”
Southgate now finds himself under pressure as England face relegation from the Nations League following a four-match winless run, which has featured just one goal from open play.
“Tonight’s a difficult night,” Southgate added in his press conference. “I’ve watched as a kid and a player, and I recognise those difficult times. But you can’t just be at the front when things are good, and not stand up when things get tough.
“I knew the role before I took it. It’s happened in ten days, not eleven months. But I’ve seen other England managers go through that – the great Bobby Robson was, and look how he was judged in the end.
“Football is emotion, and if the flak comes my way, you have to expect that. You can’t be England manager and have the run I’ve had for the last five years without also having some tough times.”