Gareth Southgate on substitutes decision
Gareth Southgate has revealed that he did want to make substitutes in England’s 1-1 draw with Poland, but decided not to in the fear of adding more time on at the end of the game.
England had taken the lead in the second half thanks to a wonderful long-range strike from Harry Kane, but were pegged back in the 91st minute by Damian Szymanski.
In the immediate aftermath of the game Southgate has taken some flak for his decision not to make a single substitute throughout the course of the qualifier – the first time the Three Lions haven’t made a sub in a game since 1996.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Southgate confirmed that that was not the plan originally:
“We wanted to make substitutions towards the end, but when the goal went in we thought there was no point because we would be adding time on.
“We were playing well, we were in control. At those moments, it’s not easy to come on as a substitute and we would be taking people off for the sake of it, frankly.
“We were in total control, there was no issue, why disrupt it when you’re in control?”
Southgate also discussed the fact that the Three Lions were well aware of how difficult a game Wednesday’s encounter with Poland would be, and overall, he expressed delight at how his team performed across the September internationals:
“It was no surprise that this was the hardest game in the group. Early in the game, we were a little slow to move the ball and Poland pressed us well.
“We got caught in our own half a few times but we recovered well and defended those situations well. As the half wore on we started to get a grip of the game and gain more control without making really any clear chances – other than Harry Kane’s header at the far post.
“In the second half we controlled the game. If there’s a criticism it’s that we didn’t create enough clear chances from that possession and we didn’t get enough players in the box.
“While it’s one-nil you run the risk of what happened at the end. We’re clearly disappointed not to get the three points but I have to look at what the players have done across these three matches.
“Given that there was no way of telling how they would react after what happened in the [Euro 2020 final], I think their mentality and application has been really good.”