Gareth Southgate believes England are now seen as a threat at Euro 2020

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'England are a threat' - Gareth Southgate on his squad, Wembley & Euro 96

England manager Gareth Southgate believes his team will be seen as a threat to win Euro 2020 next summer.

After a surprise run to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia last year, England are joint bookmakers' favourites along with France to win the tournament.

The Three Lions will play all three group games at Wembley, which will also host the semi-finals and final.

"We've gained some respect and people would view us as a threat, which certainly wasn't the case ahead of Russia," Southgate told BBC Sport.

"We also know we have got to improve to another level.

"It's hard to assess exactly where we are after this qualifying campaign. But if we look at a World Cup semi-final, a Nations League semi-final, and qualifying with the most goals in Europe, we have done all we can and we are on a good track."

The draw for the finals takes place on Saturday in Bucharest (live on BBC 2, 17:00 GMT).

England already know they will be in Group D at Euro 2020. They will be joined by one of France, Poland, Croatia and Switzerland from Pot Two, as well as one from Portugal, Turkey, Austria, the Czech Republic and Sweden from Pot Three.

If Scotland come through their play-offs in March, they will play England at Wembley.

Before the draw, BBC sports editor Dan Roan spoke to Southgate to get his thoughts on where England are as they prepare to stage part of a major tournament for the first time since Euro 96.

We sat down this time two years ago in Moscow for the World Cup. How does it feel now, before your second major tournament in the job?

We're better prepared as a whole staff for what lies ahead, the realisation that what got us to this point won't be enough to be successful in the summer. So we are a more experienced group of staff for sure, the playing squad is more experienced in some aspects, and in others we are very young again.

So we are excited, but the continuity of thinking is that we are excited by the challenge ahead.

Harry Kane and Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate has won 24 of the 41 matches in which he has been in charge of England

How much further advanced is the team after reaching the World Cup semi-finals? And what is the difference between this group and those that have struggled in the past?

You could argue that we had more experienced teams. I don't know about more talented, but we certainly had teams that had Champions League winners throughout the squad and a high number of caps. This is a different time for English football.

We have a lot of young, exciting players coming through, they are used to working at St George's Park, they are used to coming through the development teams together which has given them a strong bond, and they are very clear on the style of play that we want to play.

Years ago, we didn't have the advantages of having our own training facility, but ultimately it's down to the group of players and how much England is part of their lives and how important it is for them to win.

Have you developed and grown as a manager over the last few years?

I heard Jose Mourinho the other day say that he will make mistakes but not the same mistakes that he's made in the past. That's the life of a coach. You should never stop learning. Every day there is a new challenge, and the game and the world evolves so quickly that you have to be ahead of new training methods and new technology and everything else, so that's part of the process.

Are England viewed differently now and are they a team that others now want to avoid?

I think we've gained some respect, and I think people would view us as a threat which certainly wasn't the case ahead of Russia. We also know we have got to improve to another level.

It's hard to assess exactly where we are after this qualifying campaign. But if we look at a World Cup semi-final, a Nations League semi-final, and qualifying with the most goals in Europe, we have done all we can and we are on a good track.

In the World Cup, there still seemed to be a small gap between England and the top teams? Has it closed? Are England at that level now?

In terms of consistency of performance, we are. Nobody else got to the World Cup semi-finals and the latter stages of the Nations League. So we are in that mix of teams, but there are lot of good teams and the difference on one day between any of the top 10 teams is so marginal in football.

It's a bit different in rugby union, where there are only really four or five contenders. With us in the European Championships, it's always been more random than a World Cup actually, so you could look at any one of 10 teams and think they could win it.

Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling
England top scored with 37 goals in eight matches in qualifying for Euro 2020 with the front three of Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling scoring 22 of them

How inspired have you been by England's cricket and rugby union teams?

It's always great to see people from our country doing well, it does inspire you. It reminds you of what it can feel like when everybody is involved and the nation is watching and the excitement of it.

You see the level of detail and performance that is needed to be the best in the world in any sport. I loved watching both teams play, and as an Englishman I was really proud of what they did and it was heart-warming to see.

How big an advantage will it be to play three group games at Wembley?

Ten or 12 teams will get the opportunity to play group matches at home, so a lot of teams will benefit from that. That will be a brilliant experience for our players and fans to have that part of the tournament at home.

We then have to go on the road like everybody else and it becomes more like a normal tournament for the knockout phase. If we are good enough to get to the semi-finals then we have the advantage of that being at Wembley, which would be brilliant.

Is getting to a semi-final at Wembley the target?

It's hard to assess what our target would be. We always have an internal view of where we can get to, but there are so many random things that can happen with the draw so we have to got to make sure we are performing at a level where we can beat those better teams.

We are getting towards that level. We want to be in the games that matter all the time, the latter stages of tournaments and if you are in the latter stages often enough then you start to win them. That's the same with all big teams.

How big could next summer be and will the draw spark excitement?

The draw is always a decisive moment for everybody, knowing the dates and knowing what the route looks like. The country feels like they have been more engaged with the team over the last two years and that's one of the biggest highlights for me when I travel around, that people do care.

I knew they did, but I think everybody was wounded by disappointment. The players deserve huge credit for that. They have played and conducted themselves in a way which people have been proud to watch them.

England Euro '96 team
Southgate (number 6) played every match for England at Euro '96 - the last major tournament to be staged in England

How does this compare to the Euro 96 squad which you were part of and is this a second chance to put that right?

In terms of the teams, they are very different. We had seven club captains and quite a few players in their late twenties and some in their early thirties, so this team is in a different moment in their journey, both individually and collectively.

The tournament next summer is not about me and redemption. On a personal level, the World Cup in Russia was, I guess, my own catharsis of getting out of a penalty shoot-out. That was something that was nice to do, but the team is about the player and the team is about our fans and it's more important that we make them proud. We have to win matches to do that.

There are only a few friendlies left before naming your squad. How many of your starting XI do you know and how many places are up for grabs?

You know if you played tomorrow you would have a very clear idea. But at this stage when we last saw them they had played 12 league matches and when we next see them they will have played 30.

So their form and fitness, because a lot of difference between those players is very tight, a lot of them we will learn as much about them with their clubs as we will do with England before the tournament.

That is the reality. There are definitely places up for grabs and there is competition for places. We are pretty clear on how we want to play and at the moment there are some ahead of others, but that can change for sure.

Was the reported interest from Tottenham flattering? Do you realistically see your journey with England still lasting until 2022?

I haven't planned anything in my managerial career. None of the jobs that I've taken were a reality in my mind until about 48 hours before they happened.

I love the job I'm doing, we have an exciting team which continues to improve. At every team you work with, there maybe comes a moment when the fans or the players have had enough of you and that's probably the time to go. I don't sense that at the moment.

For me, in the next month we are going to the draw for the Euros and to do some planning for Qatar and that would be my focus.

The team is known for its togetherness. But the recent incident (between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez) was the first challenge for you as regards that unity so do you have any regrets about how it was handled? Is the England culture back on track?

For sure, it's not the only challenge we have had to our culture over three years. Absolutely it is done. From the group of players and internally, it was done by Tuesday morning.

Of course, with England there is always going to be noise around that and noise from outside the camp and that's part of what we have to deal with. That's one of the challenges of the national team.

You know as a leader there are often going to be situations where however you deal with something, there will be a negative response to it. You just have to accept it. You can't share all the details with people, you can't necessarily defend yourself and it's not the right thing to do.

So we know the landscape but the team are very together. I know the two boys have moved on from it and I'm sure we will have similar disagreements between people moving forward and for certain we will have learned a lot from what we went through.

You've had the chance to reflect on what happened during the qualifier in Bulgaria a few weeks ago when racial abuse meant the game was stopped twice, with your players close to walking off. What has been the effect on them and the sport generally do you think?

We were the first national team to go as far through that protocol as we did, and it was a very difficult topic for all of us. But I hope we have made [a difference] in people's minds.

I know people in cricket the last couple of days have talked about what we did [following the racist abuse of England's Jofra Archer in New Zealand], and they felt it had a positive impact, which is good.

It's sad we are still having to deal with this situation in this day and age, but the most important for me was our players felt supported and felt very together that night, and subsequently.

And if we have an opportunity because of our position as a national team, if we have an opportunity to make a difference to some social issues, then we should seize that chance.

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