England manager Gareth Southgate was candid about where his team are in football's pecking order after an unconvincing 1-0 win over Slovenia sent them into the World Cup finals on Thursday.
Until skipper Harry Kane struck in the fourth minute of stoppage time there was every chance England's confirmation of a place at the Russian showpiece next year would have been greeted with boos from a frustrated Wembley Stadium crowd.
A young England team again lacked guile -- a common criticism throughout a qualifying campaign that has been comfortable without ever stirring any real optimism.
Yet Southgate, who took over from Sam Allardyce after one game in Group F and has sealed top spot with a game to spare, said the only thing that mattered for now was that England had completed their first task of making it to Russia.
"Tonight highlighted where we are," he told reporters. "Was it the performance or the night we wanted? No, absolutely not.
"I think people want to come and see goals and be entertained. It's blindingly obvious we could have played better. You know what you would like and what is realistic.
"Are we are going to become Spain in the next eight months? No we're not. They have a squad full of players who have won Champions Leagues and league titles. We haven't got players who have proved themselves on that stage.
"But now they have a chance to play on that stage at the World Cup. That was why it was imperative we got there."
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