“Not his responsibility” – Gareth Southgate sends England fans a clear message ahead of EURO2024

Gareth Southgate has warned England fans to avoid expecting Jude Bellingham to present himself as the nation’s hero during EURO2024, after the 20-year-old enjoyed a trophy-laden debut campaign with Real Madrid.

His first campaign in the Spanish capital has left the former Birmingham City and Borussia Dortmund star as one of the leading contenders to lift the Ballon d’Or at the Théâtre du Châtelet this autumn.

But after England’s underwhelming performance against Iceland left supporters uncertain about the Three Lions chances of success in Germany, Gareth Southgate has issued fans with a stark warning: “We are not putting everything on Jude.”

“We’ve got a lot of good players and it is a collective thing to go and try to win this tournament. If we are relying on one person, that isn’t going to be a team that wins. Jude is, of course, a player with a fabulous mentality – and he will have a big impact on the whole group.”

“I’m sure Jude will give the squad a lift but it is not his responsibility to do that. It is for all of us to get the focus right, to make sure individually our mentality is right – and as a coaching team we will make sure we are working on the areas that need to be better than they were against Iceland.”

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Iceland appear to have become something of a bogey team for England over the last decade or so, with Friday’s loss at Wembley Stadium reminding fans of that infamous EURO2016 elimination in Nice. It was an utterly uninspiring evening at the national stadium, with poor individual performances reflected in the player ratings.

Southgate acknowledged that his side need to improve when they aren’t in possession, but insisted that the performance is not necessarily reflective of England’s capabilities given it came a week before tournament action gets underway.

“Maybe in the last few weeks we’ve talked a little bit too much about what we want to be with the ball. If you’re not bright without the ball, which we weren’t, then you can have problems against any side.”

“We were actually excellent without the ball in our last three matches, but we were a long way off that against Iceland. We are not putting everything on Jude,” he admitted. “We’ve got a lot of good players and it is a collective thing to go and try to win this tournament. It’s a good reminder for us as a team. If you are off it as a collective without the ball then you can have problems.”

“We spoke after the game about what needs to be better and we will be working through the details of those things. Sometimes a performance like that can really sharpen the focus, sharpen the attention to the fundamentals of the game that have to be right.”

“When you’re one game away from a tournament there is also a little bit of not wanting to get injured. So I understand some of the reasons for the performance, but it is a jolt at a good time for us because we’ll have to get that preparation next week spot on. It means we’ll have an edge to things, which we need,” he concluded.

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