Gareth Southgate will take time to reflect on his future as the England manager faces conflicting thoughts after what he admits has been an often difficult last 18 months in the hot seat.
Harry Kane scored a penalty and missed another against defending champions France on Saturday night as their World Cup dreams ended in a 2-1 quarter-final defeat in Qatar.
England’s wait to emulate Sir Alf Ramsey’s heroes of 1966 continues as attention turns to Southgate as he processes last eight defeat following European Championship final loss last summer against Italy.
The 52-year-old has a contract until the next Euros in 2024 but wants to make sure he has the energy to go again and that the decision is right for the team.
“When I got through the last few tournaments, my emotions were hard to really reflect properly in the weeks that followed,” Southgate said.
“It took so much energy from you and you have so many things going through your mind.
“I want to make the right decision in both cases because it has to be the right one to go back or the right one not to go back and I don’t think tonight is the time to make a decision like that.
“The next few days either.”
Telling him the future looks bright for England, he added: “Yeah, listen, I’ve found a lot of the last 18 months difficult.
“For everything I’ve loved for the past few weeks, I still have how things have been for 18 months.
“What was said and what was written, the night of the Wolves.
“There’s a lot of things in my head that are really conflicted right now, so what I want to make sure, if that’s the right thing to say, is that I definitely have the energy for the TO DO.
“I don’t want to spend four or five months thinking I made the wrong choice. It’s too important for everyone to be wrong.
Southgate was widely criticized during England’s six-game winless run leading to Qatar which led to relegation from the Nations League top tier.
Molineux’s 4-0 defeat in June against Hungary was the lowest point and some fans turned on the England boss, just as they did after September’s 1-0 loss to Italy in Milano.
England will return to Italy to kick off European Championship qualifying in just 14 weeks and Southgate will speak to the Football Association before then to discuss “things logically”.
The former defender went through the same process after runs to the World Cup semi-finals four years ago and the Euro final last summer – a penalty shoot-out defeat that still sticks in your throat .
“I don’t think I got over the last one, but it feels a bit different because when we reflect on what we did, I don’t know what more we could have done or given,” Southgate said. .
“I think we gave a very good performance against a top team, which I think was a big psychological step for these players.
“There are young players in there in particular, where the step we need to take is to have that belief and that confidence in those big games.
“I was involved in nights where we played the top teams and were on the back foot for the majority of the game and dominated.
“I know France are a bit more counter-attacking, so it’s a bit different from a possession team that can push you back.
“We wanted to be bold in the tournament and I think we went with them and, yes, the players should be really proud of what they’ve done.”
Southgate believes England have ‘restored their credibility’ by reaching the quarter-finals in three successive tournaments, which they last achieved under Sven-Goran Eriksson between 2002 and 2006.
The former defender is unsure whether he will watch the rest of the World Cup after returning home on Sunday from an abrupt halt to what was shaping up to be a special tournament.
“It’s a really strange feeling because the end of the tournament is so hard,” he said before leaving their base in Qatar.
“Everybody wraps everything up and you go through years of preparation, really, and then there’s this feeling.
“There is the feeling that we were so close and the level of performance that I was so happy with.
“There’s the disappointment that we think we could have gone on and done more and yet I really have very few regrets about the whole thing. So, yeah, emotionally it’s really been a roller coaster.