"I don't think we are in a situation where at the moment as a country we can go out there and outplay too many teams," he said. "We rarely out-possess other countries, so we've got to think logically about how we set up and the best way to get results. That's not negative."
It was the sort of expert foresight ITV would have hoped to hear from one of their pundits, except Southgate was not speaking from a television studio but in his role as the Football Association's head of elite player development. England's diligent, if somewhat limited, performance against France suggested he has his work cut out in the latter role.
These championships are yet to really get going but already it is possible to detect a yawning chasm in the technical ability prevalent in the players of, for example, Spain, Croatia, Russia and Germany, and those representing, among others, England and the Republic of Ireland.
The Irish could almost be excused. Like Greece or Denmark, they have a fairly shallow talent pool from which to draw and so have to utilise their meagre resources to the best of their ability. They are not entirely without flair – Aiden McGeady and Damien Duff on their day can be influential – but in Giovanni Trapattoni they have a manager wed to pragmatism and a rigid 4-4-2 formation. When their weaknesses are exposed, as Croatia did quite brutally in their opening game, then the Irish can seem quite vulnerable.
It is harder to make a case for England and their lack of adventure. They have appointed in Roy Hodgson a manager who tends to favour the safety-first approach but the level of respect shown to France, a team still in a state of flux under a new manager, came across as being unncessarily deferential. Like Chelsea's timid but ultimately successful Champions League campaign, it begged the question as to why a country with such resources should come across as being afraid to express themselves.
Ashley Young offered glimpses of creativity – and Wayne Rooney will bring about an extra dimension when he returns to the side following suspension – but the extra defensive layer provided by Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard in midfield suggested the onus was on trying not to lose, rather than trying to win.
There may be a logical argument that suggests if you don't lose your first group game, you can approach the second match without a heightened sense of anxiety, but for England even to be thinking along those lines speaks volumes for how they see their limitations. So much for the bulldog spirit and we-can-beat-anyone approach.
It is no secret that the English game – and the Scottish one, too, by association – needs to undergo a revolution. Players need to become comfortable in possession, to be able to pass the ball accurately for long spells of time without becoming impatient, for creative players to be encouraged to attack and not be fearful of getting it wrong, and for teams not to be reliant on a physical approach or on set-plays. Both countries have acknowledged that change is necessary from grassroots level up and have begun implementing them, although aspiring young players must look at what they are being asked to do and compare it with what is happening at elite level and wonder why there is such disparity.
Bringing about such a vast change in British football also requires a seismic shift in football culture. There is an inherent suspicion of teams that play with just one – or on occasional no – centre forward, while a defensive blooter out the park continues to receive as big a cheer as a neat piece of skill or a perfect pass.
At least there is acknowledgment that change is required. "People need to realise you can't be successful at the highest level adopting the old English style of play," Southgate also said recently. It may be some time, however, before those changes filter through.
There's a recession on but seemingly nobody has told Sky or BT. The announcement yesterday that the pair between them have paid £3.018bn for three seasons of Barclays Premier League broadcasting rights was truly staggering and a sign that the bubble down south is in no danger of popping any time soon. At a time when Scottish football is getting in a flap at the prospect of losing the £13m or so a year on offer from Sky and ESPN, then the gap between the haves and have-nots has surely never been greater.