HUNGARY FOR MORE: England looking to overcome EURO misery
Gareth Southgate believes the only way to overcome England’s Euro 2020 heartbreak is to win the World Cup ahead of their game with Hungary.
The Three Lions lost to Italy on penalties at Wembley this summer in the country’s first appearance in a major final for 55 years.
A tough World Cup qualifier away to Hungary on Thursday comes just 53 days on from the Italy defeat.
With the finals kicking off in Qatar next November, Southgate feels winning the World Cup would end talk about what went wrong in July.
“We probably need to win a World Cup final,” the England boss replied when asked what it would take for the Euros to be forgotten.
“Because nothing else is really going to compare to the level of the game we were involved in and the unique circumstance that being involved in a final brings.
“We had two years of having to reflect on a World Cup semi-final and whatever we do in the next 18 months has got to be towards leading us towards challenging in a World Cup.”
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire echoed the sentiments of his international boss when asked if he would get over the pain of losing to Italy.
“It hurts and it always will hurt,” he said.
“Will you ever get over losing a penalty shootout to become European champions? Probably only if you win one of these major tournaments will you overcome that.
“Of course it hurts and it probably hurts every fan as well, not just us players and staff. It will hurt everyone.”
While Maguire played a huge part in England’s run to the final, someone who was used more sparingly could now become a major player in Southgate’s plans to win the World Cup.
Jack Grealish started just once at Euro 2020 before completing a move from Aston Villa to Manchester City and breaking the transfer record for a British player.
Southgate feels Grealish will need time to adapt to life with the Premier League champions but can flourish under the pressure of his price tag.
“He is going to be fitter now because he missed 16 weeks (last season) and he was only able to train two days out of three in the summer,” Southgate replied when asked what Grealish’s move would do for his career.
“So we knew we had to get the best that we could physically from him. We’ve got to also respect that he is going to need a period of adaptation with his club.
“There’s a big difference to the way Manchester City play. Pep (Guardiola) is very precise on positional discipline with the ball. That’s different to what he’s used to. That will take some adaptation.
“I don’t think the price tag itself will bother him. I think he enjoys that. He’s a player that thrives on that sort of pressure. He will be judged differently on and off the pitch because of that price tag and because his profile is high at the moment.
“I think he is ready for that and would expect that. He is also going to play Champions League football and he is going to play with top-level players, train with top-level players every day, and he’s going to play at a club where they have to win every week. The combination of all those things is going to help him become a better player, with a doubt.”
Hungary will host England in Budapest behind closed doors due to racism evident at their EURO 2020 games.
Budapest was the only city with capacity crowds at the tournament but UEFA have sanctioned Hungary for discriminatory behaviour.
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