England appear to have lost their way ahead of the World Cup after defeat to Hungary

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DOMINIC KING: Misery at Molineux shows how far England have fallen… we are heading towards the World Cup as a team that appears to have COMPLETELY lost its way

  • England suffered a nightmare 4-0 defeat to Hungary in the Nations League
  • Rolland Sallai struck either side of half time to had the visitors a two-goal lead
  • Zsolt Nagy provided England with an insurmountable deficit as he added a third 
  • The game worsened for Gareth Southgate’s side as John Stones was sent off 
  • Daniel Gazdag added to the misery as England’s woeful campaign continued

Gareth Southgate’s first act was in keeping with how he is as a man. As those who had remained in the stands squawked and screeched their fury, England’s head coach turned to his opposite number Marco Rossi and congratulated him at length on Hungary’s remarkable victory.

What followed that interchange, however, was deeply revealing. Southgate walked off on his own offering his acknowledgement to England’s fans but he looked to be in a trance; shock was etched all over his face, the kind of expression you see people involved in car crashes display.

And this had been one almighty crash. An international season that started with the scoreline Hungary 0 England 4 had been bookended with the reverse of England 0 Hungary 4 and Southgate alone was being held accountable.

England suffered a nightmare 4-0 defeat to Hungary in the Nations League on Tuesday

Winger Rolland Sallai (left) stunned Molineux with his 16th minute opener for Hungary

Winger Rolland Sallai (left) stunned Molineux with his 16th minute opener for Hungary 

Sallai poked it home after Kalvin Phillips lost possession in midfield to double the visitors' lead

Sallai poked it home after Kalvin Phillips lost possession in midfield to double the visitors’ lead

All manner of crass insults were hurled at him, the overriding theme of it was that Southgate should leave his post immediately. That won’t happen, of course, but there is little doubt he could do with having a break of some description.

Southgate, increasingly over this camp, has appeared frazzled. Not to the extent that he has been snappy or irascible but certainly he has given the impression he could do with somewhere else other than St George’s Park for a good chunk of time.

During his press briefing at England HQ last Friday, it was initially planned that Southgate would speak for 10 minutes but he ended up talking for more than half-hour. He was candid and, towards the end, he offered this answer.

‘There is only a handful of people who focus on England all year and watch all the players play every match for their club and have the view on how that comes together,’ he said. ‘We go home at night thinking about exactly what is needed to win and live it every minute of the day.

‘There are not many people who do that, even, with respect, within the FA. (Others) have their own roles. We live and breathe every second of it. I know we don’t play every week, but we are doing that all the time because we want to make England as successful as we possibly can.’

The Nations League campaign will weigh heavily on Gareth Southgate’s mind over summer

The Nations League campaign will weigh heavily on Gareth Southgate’s mind over summer

It went from bad to worse as defender John Stones saw red for a second yellow card

It went from bad to worse as defender John Stones saw red for a second yellow card

Daniel Gazdag compounded the English misery as the substitute chipped in to make it 4-0

Daniel Gazdag compounded the English misery as the substitute chipped in to make it 4-0

Such intensity takes a toll. Everyone recognises these players need a break – there is something quite preposterous about England playing a competitive home game on the opening day of Royal Ascot and the final day of Trent Bridge Test – but what about Southgate?

This is not an attempt to try and sidestep the worst home scoreline in almost a century. England started off meekly, crept into the realms of mundanity and, towards the end, they had plummeted into the depths of despair. Southgate, as the leader, knows he takes the responsibility for it.

The team he picked never looked comfortable, novices such as Jarrod Bowen and Conor Gallagher found out how much they need to step up to function at international level and it was risible how they allowed losing by two goals in the 70th minute to become a humiliation.

Inevitably, Southgate will spend the next couple of days pouring over it, running the details through in his mind. What he really needs to do is switch off and be ready for the next international games in September. 

England have fallen: to avoid a bleak mid-winter, it’s time for them to recharge.

Jarrod Bowen had an excellent season with West Ham but needs to improve for England

Jarrod Bowen had an excellent season with West Ham but needs to improve for England

Southgate turned to three of his most trusted squad members, including Mason Mount (right)

Southgate turned to three of his most trusted squad members, including Mason Mount (right)

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