Gareth Southgate says he told his England players that he was to blame for his side’s horrendous international break, which saw them fail to win in four matches against Hungary (twice), Germany and Italy. The Three Lions were on the receiving end of a sickening reality check just five months away from the World Cup in Qatar and they now only have two matches together to put things right before they head off to the tournament.
They were second best in just about every department as Hungary ran riot in the closing stages of their incredible 4-0 win at Molineux to crank up the pressure on Southgate.
But he was happy to shoulder the blame for England’s worst defeat since 1928 – something he told his players.
He told Channel 4: “We picked a young team with energy, when the game started to go against them, it started to look that way. That’s my responsibility in the end.
“I felt at half-time we needed to go for it, we made changes that gave us more of an attacking impetus but then we were a bit more open as well at the end we were pushing that we left ourselves wide open.
“I’ve just said to the players there that across the four matches, that’s my responsibility. I tried to balance looking at new players and resting players.
“But in the end, the teams I’ve selected in the two Hungary games haven’t been strong enough to get the result.”
Southgate believes there are lessons to be learned from the underwhelming camp, which has seen him cast an eye over a number of England’s youngsters.
He added: “In actual fact, we’ve seen you’ve got to be at full strength. This was an important experience for lots of young guys in terms of games, we’ve learned a lot in the Germany and Italy games and Hungary are a good side.
“I think I’ve given them too much to do tonight in the end, I understand the reaction in the stadium.
“In the end this is about winning games with England and tonight was the sort of night that a lot of my predecessors have had and have experienced.
“I’m not going to say it doesn’t hurt but it’s very clear to me what we’ve tried to do across these four matches. The irony is probably the two Nations League campaigns are the ones that have heaped negativity and pressure onto us and you wouldn’t normally have that as an England manager.
“It’s my job to protect the players, they’ve been exceptional in their attitude, they’ve never stopped and the result is my responsibility.
“It’s not easy to say when we’ve had the result we’ve had tonight but we needed to give people some experience.
“That wasn’t a great experience to go through but we’ve had some unbelievable nights over the last few years and that’s the reality of football.”
England were 1-0 down inside 16 minutes when Roland Sallai finished to put the visitors in front.
He would then double his tally for the evening with 20 minutes to play when he fired a low, driven shot through Aaron Ramsdale.
Zsolt Nagy then added gloss to the scoreline when he rifled home from outside of the box.
Things would then get even worse when John Stones was handed his marching orders after being shown a red card.
However, Hungary were about to carry out even further humiliation when Daniel Gazdag got in on the act, clipping the ball over the advancing Ramsdale.