Southgate targets No. 1 ranking for England
- Mike Johnshon
- 20 Nov, 2023
Gareth Southgate expresses his determination to elevate England to the status of the world's leading team, emphasizing the absence of tolerance for any "sloppiness" as they aim to conclude their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign positively.
England, set to play against North Macedonia in Skopje on Monday, are nearly guaranteed a place among the top-seeded teams in the upcoming draw for the finals in Germany.
However, their performance in the 2-0 win against Malta at Wembley on Friday was underwhelming, prompting a desire for improvement against North Macedonia, a team they defeated convincingly with a 7-0 score at Old Trafford in June.
"Qualification's done," the England boss told British media ahead of the Group C finale.
"With the games at the weekend, we might be ranked third in the world at the minute (England are fourth in the latest published Fifa rankings), but we're two places off where we need to be so we can't waste games.
"Some of the players have got three games to get into a squad, some have got maybe three to get into a team."
Southgate emphasized the necessity for a consistently high level of performance every time.
Argentina, the reigning World Cup champions, currently hold the top spot in the rankings, followed by France in second place and Brazil in third. England has maintained a position in the top five for five consecutive years.
When questioned about whether striving for the top spot motivates him, Southgate responded, "Yes, because achieving that comes down to being consistent, and you have to perform well in tournaments since they offer higher ranking points."
"Also, it sets behaviours every day on the training pitch, off the training pitch.
"If you are going to be the top-ranked team, there's no room for sloppiness or casualness. That's got to be our drive."
England's last training session of the year faced interruptions due to player absences.
Initially, five players withdrew from the original squad due to injuries, and before departing to the Balkans, two more players had to leave the squad.
The Football Association confirmed that Kieran Trippier had returned home due to a personal matter, while Jarrod Bowen had to depart the camp on Sunday due to injury.
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