Gareth Southgate says now is not the time for a post-mortem on England’s sluggish 1-0 win over Slovenia which booked their spot at the 2018 World Cup.
The Three Lions laboured at Wembley and needed a Harry Kane goal in the third minute of injury time to seal their place in Russia next summer.
They hardly did it in style on a frustrating night where the home crowd resorted to throwing paper aeroplanes to amuse themselves, but Southgate wants to reflect on his side’s achievement.
“We know we have to get better, but that’s for tomorrow, tonight we as a country are going to the World Cup which is fantastic,” he said.
“I think this team has potential, but we have got a hell of a lot of work to do.
“We came in on the back of the European Championships, they have had a change of coach, they have had a lot of difficulties to deal with through the campaign, but now we are there and we look to where we can improve all the time.
“We played a team who have only conceded four goals and you saw why, they defended resolutely, they broke the game up when they had to, they took yellow cards when they had to and we weren’t quite as sharp as we would have hoped to be with the ball.
“But we stuck at it and it’s not a coincidence that we keep scoring late goals.”
Man-of-the-match Joe Hart also reckons people should be smiling.
Southgate’s men relied on Hart to make a crucial save near the end with the score still at 0-0, but the goalkeeper is looking at the positives.
“We have qualified for a World Cup with one game to go, so it is really important that we smile tonight,” he said. “England have qualified for a World Cup and that is a big deal.
“The guys were brilliant today, we wore them down. It’s difficult, these games are difficult and to have Harry doing that in he last minute is a big feeling. We are really happy.”
Goalscorer Kane added: “It feels amazing to get there, it’s no easy feat, there’s some other top countries around the world struggling to qualify.
“To qualify with one game to go we’re all delighted, it’s job done for us.”
“We dust ourselves off, we have got another game on Sunday, we are not thinking too far ahead and (will) keep doing what we are doing and see what happens.”