1. ITV Report

England U21 boss wary of social media criticism

Southgate, England U21 boss. Photo: PA

Gareth Southgate's Euro 96 penalty miss means he knows a thing or two about abuse, making him all the more wary about the way social media could impact on his England Under-21 side's European Championship hopes.

The Young Lions' fifth straight appearance in the finals is likely to end in a third successive group-stage exit unless they beat Sweden in Olomouc on Sunday.

Portugal's 1-0 triumph in their Group B opener means England are in a precarious position and has naturally led to a flood of criticism on social media.

Southgate is only using his Twitter account to check his son's cricket results, with the tournament in full flow, and is wary of the way negative comments on social media could impact his players.

England lost their opening match. Credit: PA

"I don't and I can't shield it for them, but would I suggest that it's not going to help them get in the right mind set by reading what some bloke who might have just had six pints says," he said.

"I remember when I was working for ITV getting some messages from people and then looking at maybe what their last 10 messages to people had been and quite often they were quite similar, quite vitriolic.

"Again, it is easy for me at 44 to rationalise it more. I don't think the lads would necessarily go through that and I go back to what I say to my daughter.

"Home is a place for young people where, for the majority, there is safety and security. Now, with social media you can be attacked in your own home.

"That, as a dad, bothers me because I don't think that's healthy and I think it is dangerous for young people, but I also move with the times and accept that we embrace social media.

"But for young people, there's a lot of negativity or adverse things that can come into that."

The ease and access such channels provide only exacerbates the issue in the opinion of Southgate, who is regularly reminded about his missed penalty in the Euro 96 semi-final against Germany.

"It still goes on," the former defender said of the abuse. "I still get it, absolutely. Some of our lads would be better prepared to handle that than others.

"They psychologically mature at different ages and can cope with things at different ages, (so it is about) having an understanding of them as individuals and what they can handle."