Monday, 14 November 2016

Why Gareth Southgate is the Right Man to Manage England

by Mark Docherty


After England’s emphatic 3-0 win over Scotland, more and more people are touting Gareth Southgate to be named as the national team’s permanent manager.  If you look at the bookies and the polls it is almost certain that Southgate will be the next man to take control of the England team, and when have they ever failed to predict anything?!  Although he is likely to get the job, many people are still sceptical about his managerial credentials and wonder whether he is really the right man for the job.  For me, however, he is the only realistic candidate so should be given the opportunity to lead England for now.  Here is why:

One of the main reasons people question Southgate’s suitability for the England manager’s job is that he has very little experience in professional management.  His managerial career has been made up of a spell in charge of Middlesbrough (in which he was relegated), three years with the England under 21s, and has now been in caretaker charge of England for three games.  Some might argue that this shows his lack of experience whereas others feel that time managing the under 21s is the perfect preparation for managing the senior team.  Personally I think it can only be a good thing that Southgate has played a key role in the development of many of the players who are currently emerging onto the international scene.  Jesse Lingard, John Stones and Harry Kane have all worked with Southgate previously so he has had plenty of time to assess their strengths and weaknesses.  This gives him a clear advantage over other candidates who have never been able to work with players in close proximity and have had to make do with watching them from a distance.

Another reason the Southgate has benefited from working with the under 21s is that he has had experience of tournament football, rather than having spent most of his time playing over long Premier League seasons.  He has a mixed record at under 21 tournaments, having achieved success in winning the under 20 championships in Toulon earlier this year.  However, he has also led the England under 21 side to a disappointing exit in the group stages of the 2015 European under 21 Championships, which should set him up perfectly for the senior team!  In my eyes it can only be a good thing that Southgate has taken teams to international tournaments in the past as it will give him some knowhow when leading England in similar situations.  Ideally he will be ready to lead the senior team into the next World Cup.

The final reason Southgate is both so likely to get the job and the best choice is that there are very few alternative candidates.  When scrolling through the odds for the next permanent manager I was shocked to find that the second favourite is Alan Pardew, whose Crystal Palace side are 16th in the Premier League table on a four game losing streak and not having won since the 24th September.  The idea that somebody who is arguably underachieving with a lower mid-table Premier League team being in the running for national team manager for me makes it clear that there is no outstanding candidate for the job.  Changing managers at this stage would have a detrimental effect on the team’s form so it is better just to keep some stability with Southgate for the next two years rather than give the job to somebody like Pardew who would make changes before inevitably being sacked after the failing in a couple of major tournaments.  England need to regain some stability after a turbulent few months and the last thing they need is yet another change of managers.

In conclusion, I believe Southgate is the only option for the England job.  When selecting from a pool of average candidates, the best option has to be to select the one who the players will adapt to the most easily - in this case the one who is already in place.  Not only does Southgate have experience of taking teams to major tournaments, which is lacked by any of the other potential applicants, but he has also been working with many of England’s players since they were anonymous teenagers trying to make their mark on the international scene.  These factors make him the obvious choice for the FA to give the England job to, and while he is unlikely to win any tournaments, he should prevent any large scale embarrassments like the ones England have found themselves subject to in recent times.

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