Despite their almost-assured status as top seeds for the Euro 2024 finals draw in Germany, Southgate emphasized the importance of maintaining high standards and eliminating “sloppiness.”
Following a somewhat lackluster 2-0 victory against Malta at Wembley on Friday, England is preparing to face North Macedonia in Skopje on Monday.
Despite their dominant 7-0 win against North Macedonia at Old Trafford in June, Southgate stressed the need for a stronger performance in the Group C finale.
“Qualification’s done,” Southgate stated in discussions with British media.
“We might be ranked third in the world at the minute, 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.”
The England boss emphasized the necessity of a “spot-on” performance every time, underlining that consistency is key to achieving the top spot in the FIFA rankings.
Argentina, the reigning World Cup champions, currently lead the rankings, followed by France and Brazil. England has maintained a position in the top five for five consecutive years.
When asked about his motivation to become number one, Southgate explained, “Yeah, because ultimately you achieve that through consistency, and you’ve got to play well in the tournaments as well because the ranking points are higher in the tournaments.”
He added, “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.”
However, England’s preparations for the North Macedonia clash have been marred by disruptions, with several players withdrawing from the squad due to injuries.
Kieran Trippier returned home due to a personal issue, while Jarrod Bowen left the camp on Sunday following an injury.
As England aims for a strong finish to the Euro 2024 qualifiers, Southgate remains committed to instilling a culture of consistency and high performance, keeping their eyes on the ultimate goal of becoming the world’s number one team.