Southgate, England, Evolution and way forward

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By Habeeb Kuranga

Over the years, the Three Lions of England has been blessed with talented coaches who have the tactical acumen during their days in the dugout.

From Sir Alf Ramsey (who guided the country to her first and the only world cup triumph in 1966), to Sir Bobby Robson, Sven Goran Eriksson, Fabio Capello, Roy Hodgson, Sam Allardyce down to Gareth Southgate. England should by all means seen as one of the International teams to always get it right when appointing coaches for their national side.

With all the great names aforementioned, England has since still find it difficult to reach the finals of major tournaments. After the 1966 world cup win which they hosted, they have since failed to reach another final not until Euros 2020 in 2021 when Gareth Southgate and the boys were excellent en route to the grand finale which they disappointingly lost to Italy in a penalty shootout after the game had ended 1-1 after extra time.

Talking about Gareth Southgate who was appointed by the FA in November 2016 after Sam Allardyce was sacked having been in office for less than 100 days, no thanks to lot of controversies surrounding his appointment as at then. Much was not really expected from him as the manager, because he wasn’t seen as the favourite to return England to their best, hence, few had the belief he would last long in the helm of affairs as against the majority.

Southgate’s first major tournament was the 2018 world cup in Russia where the Three Lions were dumped out by Croatia. His second was the Euros in 2021, which ended in an even better fashion as they lost to Italy in the final.

His third major tournament outing is the ongoing 2022 world cup in Qatar which came to an end with a loss in the hands of one of their bitter rivals in the Les Bleus of France – who were seen by many football analysts as their first biggest test in the tourney – in the quarterfinal a couple of days ago. Many have been seeing the signs of his inability to take England all the way to glory in Qatar when they were relegated to the Group two of the UEFA Nations League after they failed to go ahead of any of Germany, Hungary and Italy in the log. With the most shocking result coming against Hungary when they were embarrassed at the Molineux where they lost by 4 goals to nil.

But going by the performance of England in the two previous major tournaments before the 2022 world cup, he is considered as the most successful manager since Sir Alf Ramsey who led England to the Mundial in 1966.

Gareth Southgate has shown that he is that manager who has an excellent relationship with his players. There is no form of any controversy between him and his players, at least not known to the media. His man management and tactical ingenuity is up there with some great managers at the international scene. He has always refrain himself from talking back at people who heavily criticised his tactics, selection process and even his ability to lead the Three Lions.

If the English FA are looking for a manager who can blend the youths with the experienced/old heads together to accomplish what the English fans are anticipating for with their “it’s coming home” slogan, I think Gareth Southgate is the man.

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