Gareth Southgate has voiced his optimism that England can win the 2022 World Cup, but has acknowledged that his team will have to be ‘almost perfect’ to win the trophy.
Since taking command in 2016, Southgate has overseen the Three Lions’ extraordinary development, leading them to a World Cup semi-final in 2018 and a European Championship final last summer.
In Qatar, England’s manager believes his team can go one better and win the tournament if they maintain their excellent standards.
“We said to the team that if we can get to a semi-final, we can get to a final, and we did,” Southgate told The Times. “”If we can get to a final, we can win. That’s clear. To do that is incredibly difficult and we’ll have to be as close to perfect as can be.
“That’s the challenge for us, not just when we get to Qatar because we’ve got to be in the right condition [in the middle of a draining club season] even before that. That’s what we’ve got to work towards every day we’re together.”
Southgate was speaking ahead of the World Cup draw on Friday, when England’s three group-stage opponents for the winter event will be revealed.
“You only have to look through pot one and think there are a number of teams that have won in the past few years — Portugal and France have both won major tournaments and they’ve both won the Nations League,” Southgate added.
“And then there are going to be a couple of teams in pot two as well that are going to be a real threat.”
“When you’ve got evidence that you can get results, then the gap between expectation and what is possible is smaller and that makes the team less anxious. We know that the team are further on their journey of learning from those big-match experiences than we were before. That helps you handle it even better.”