By Jack Wilkinson
Gareth Southgate: England will not settle until we reach next level
England beat Switzerland 6-5 on penalties to finish third at the inaugural Nations League finals in Portugal
Last Updated: 10/06/19 3:05pm
Gareth Southgate says the unrelenting commitment of his England players gives him the energy to guide them to the next level after their third-place finish at the Nations League.
England held their nerve after more late VAR drama in Guimaraes to end the inaugural tournament on a high with a deserved 6-5 victory over Switzerland on penalties.
England's second shootout triumph in the space of 12 months was a satisfying finale after costly errors in the semi-final defeat to Holland, but Southgate insists this latest experience of tournament football has ignited a desire to achieve more.
"The drive I've seen from the players over the last couple of days has given me energy because I can see the commitment is there to take it further with England," the England boss said.
"They are not satisfied with where they are at and that as a coach gives you a lift because sometimes you think you are the only one driving things. I take energy from all of my staff and players, you saw that from the mentality they showed today.
"We've all recognised we've hit a certain level but it's not a level we're satisfied with, so we've got to go again. We need to keep getting better and we won't settle until we do that."
Asked if England had taken a step forward with their performances in Portugal, Southgate added: ""The significant step is the level of disappointment that we haven't left here having gone to the final and won the trophy.
"None of us were satisfied, we played fine on Thursday but made ridiculous mistakes. So it was important we responded with a high level of performance, the players adapted really well, we changed the shape and they carried it out well.
"We should have won the game, we deserved to with the opportunities we created and the times we hit the woodwork. The healthy thing for me was the good response.
"There have been some really good discussions over the past few days about our dissatisfaction at going as far as we have. We recognised that you don't get many opportunities as an international team and we've got to make sure we strive to take the next step over the next couple of years."
Two shootouts from two
England scored all six of their penalties in Guimaraes to record back-to-back victories in penalty shootouts for the very time.
Jordan Pickford was the hero, scoring a penalty of his own before stopping Josip Drmic's decisive spot kick.
"We've prepared well for that eventuality," Southgate added. "We talked to the players - the ones that arrived two weeks ago - about it and they have been drilled because we knew in a competition like this we could be in this position again."
Asked if Pickford could be considered among England's regular takers in future shootouts, Southgate added: "We weren't against it last summer but others probably showed a slightly better level.
"But he would be among our better takers. A lot of goalkeepers have very good technique, they practice that technique regularly.
"If it goes against you, as a coach, you're going to get it in the neck, so it was pleasing to see it executed. It's lovely for all of the staff when that hard work comes to fruition."