Ex-Man Utd defender identifies where Gareth Southgate “let us down” in World Cup quarter-final

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Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford all featured in England’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to France

England fans were left with broken hearts on Saturday night as they were knocked out of the World Cup by France. A late penalty miss by Harry Kane left them unable to get themselves back into the quarter-final tie, despite arguably being the better side throughout.

The Three Lions went behind due to a fantastic strike from Aurelien Tchouameni before Kane coolly slotted home from the spot after Bukayo Saka was brought down by the French midfielder shortly after half-time. However, it is was Olivier Giroud that went onto score what turned out to be the winning goal for Didier Deschamps’ side. Unlike in previous matches across all three major tournaments, Gareth Southgate’s squad and tactics didn’t come under quite as much criticism after the players put on one of their best performances in Qatar, however former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand remained unconvinced by the England boss during the quarter-final.

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Speaking on his Vibe with Five YouTube show, Ferdinand said: “Our substitutions is where I think Gareth Southgate let us down. I think he’s been pitch-perfect, touch-perfect in almost every decision he’s made up to this point, but you get into a game like yesterday where this is really where it matters now, and I think Gareth Southgate came up short in the tactical element in terms of substitutions.

“That’s part of tactics, making substitutions, and in-game management and deciding games with substitutions at the business end of a tournament, I think he would hold his hands up maybe in retrospect. I threw a text in the group, and I stand by this: Gareth, in the moment, wasn’t proactive with his substitutions, he was reactive.

“It hit 1-1 and we’re sitting there going ‘take the bull by the horns, make a substitution, get us on the front foot. You’ve got [Marcus] Rashford, you’ve got Grealish who can go on, get us on the front foot and change this game. You’re sitting there going ‘It’s too late, man’. You’ve got to do this when we’ve got the chance of still winning this game and taking the game from them.”

Southgate opted against making any changes until Giroud had netted France’s second, when Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount were brought on. However, Rashford - who was dropped from the England squad after scoring a brace against Wales - didn’t feature until the 85th minute, while Grealish was left with only a matter of seconds to make an impact. Meanwhile, the likes of Callum Wilson and James Maddison were left on the bench, with the latter failing to make a single appearance during the whole World Cup.

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This winter’s tournament is now the third that Southgate has taken charge of, having been knocked out in the 2018 World Cup semi-final against Croatia and the Euro 2020 final against Italy. His future with the national team is in doubt and it has been reported that he is now considering his position ahead of the next Euros in two years time.

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