AL KHOR, Qatar — Gareth Southgate has admitted he is unsure whether to continue as England manager after his team crashed out of the World Cup at the quarterfinal stage on Saturday with a 2-1 defeat to France.

The 52-year-old is under contract until 2024 and the Football Association are keen for Southgate to continue after guiding England to the semifinals four years ago in Russia and last summer’s delayed Euro 2020 final.

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However, they suffered their earliest tournament exit here in Qatar since Southgate took charge in 2016 as goals from Aurelien Tchouameni and Olivier Giroud either side of a Harry Kane penalty were enough for Didier Deschamps’ side to set-up a semifinal against Morocco.

Kane missed a second penalty on 84 minutes which would have drawn the teams level and asked what the result meant for Southgate’s willingness to carry on to the next tournament in 18 months’ time, he said: “I think whenever I finish these tournaments, I’ve needed time to make correct decisions. Emotionally you go through so many different feelings.

“The energy it takes through these tournaments is enormous. I want to make the right decision, whatever that is for the team, for England, for the FA.

“I’ve got to be sure whatever decision I make is the right one. I think it’s right to take time to do that because I know in the past my feelings have fluctuated in the immediate aftermath of tournaments.”

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Pushed on whether an exciting and young group of players could tip the balance in favour of carrying on, Southgate continued: “No, of course. It’s a…we’ve always wanted to develop a group that can sustain the types of tournaments that we’ve had.

“I think we are continuing to do that. It’s more, you know, the decisions around…to go again is a lot of energy and you’ve got to make sure you are ready for that. There’s qualifiers in March. Tonight there is too much in my head to think logically about any of that.

“I wanted to focus totally on this tournament and to approach it in the way that we have. I think we have given a really good account of ourselves to the rest of the world. But, in the end, only one team wins and we wanted to win. Tonight we have just fallen short.”

Southgate hailed the performance of his players against the defending champions, ending with more possession (57%), twice as many shots (16-8) and more efforts on target (8-5).

“However you go out of a tournament, it is really, really difficult but I can only say the pride I have in the players and the way they have gone about the whole thing, the whole group has been exceptional,” said Southgate. “That’s everyone including the staff, it is such a united group.

“They showed that tonight, they showed the character, they showed the balls to play against a big team and go toe to toe with a big team. To take the ball, to be brave in the way that we try to defend as well.

“Of course, not perfect and there were mistakes at both ends which decide the outcome of the game. But I think we’ve once again shown the rest of the world that English football is healthy, we’ve got some very good players not only now but for the future as well.”

Southgate also sought to defend Kane after his penalty miss, which looked likely to force the game into extra-time and came during a period when England were in the ascendancy. Kane’s first successful conversion saw the 29-year-old tie with Wayne Rooney as England’s all-time top goalscorer on 53 goals.

“As you’d expect, he’s very, very low but he’s got nothing to reproach himself for,” added Southgate. “We’re in the position we are as a team because of his leadership, because of his goals over a long period of time.

“Tonight, the result is the result because of 100 minutes of football and lots of things that happened at both ends of the pitch. Even if that goes in we’ve still got a lot to do to win the game. For us, no recriminations. We’ve always stuck together as a team. The group of players have been brilliant and we win and lose together.”



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England boss Southgate unsure about future after WC exit