Gareth Southgate vowed to take the blame for England’s worrying slump after the manager was booed by his own supporters in Italy on Friday night.
England were relegated to the Nations League as a result of that defeat in Milan, their third loss in five games.
But even more worrying for Southgate is that his side have now gone five competitive games without a win and have not scored in open play for 450 minutes.
A large segment of England fans made their mood crystal clear by mocking Southgate after the final whistle as the pressure mounted on his side ahead of the World Cup, which begins just eight weeks from now.
The Three Lions manager tried to protect his players and insisted he would take flak because of England’s deeply worrisome form.
“We’ve had a series of bad results, it’s up to us to put that right,” Southgate said.
“The only way to do that is to hold on to what we believe in, to hold on to what has helped us succeed in previous tournaments, and at the end of the day, players really have to hold on.
“There will be a lot of noise, but that will be around me and that’s absolutely fine. It’s my job to take that pressure off for them.
“I understand the reaction at the end because those are the results we got in this competition. It’s an understandable emotional reaction.’ Despite England’s sad episode – their worst run since 1992 – Southgate believed the defeat at the San Siro represented an improvement.
“It’s hard for me to be too critical of the performance, we had more possession, more shots, more shots on goal.
“But it’s a spell where ultimately the results will be what everyone reacts to, but I thought there were a lot of positives for us as a team tonight.
“Many good individual performances, personally I thought the performance was a step in the right direction but I fully understand that based on the result that will not be the reaction.” Midfielder Declan Rice insisted England will be strong at the World Cup despite the current woes, adding: “I see it in training there are goals for fun, believe me we will be good.
“It’s disappointing. In every tournament we want to win the group, get through and win every game.
“In the Nations League we missed our standards. I didn’t think everything was bad tonight. A chance for them and a goal. We controlled the game and passed the ball well, especially in the first half.
“In the end, we just didn’t have the cutting edge. But it’s coming, much better performances than in the summer.”