Five reasons why England should stick with Gareth Southgate as manager
Jamie Clark | 18 November 2016
Five reasons why Southgate should be next permanent England manager
Has Gareth Southgate done enough to be next permanent England manager after taking charge of the Three Lions for their four final fixtures of 2016? Odds of 1/16 with Coral certainly say so!
A question on the lips of many for sure. Stepping up from coaching the Under-21s at very short notice to replace the disgraced Sam Allardyce, Southgate must now wait and see if his spell as interim boss can become a full-time arrangement.
Our football experts have watched every minute of those games under him closely so, based on our observations, here are five reasons why Southgate should be the next permanent England manager.
Played four, won two and drawn the others. A 50 per cent win rate and yet to taste defeat. It would be harsh on Southgate based on these results if he didn’t get the gig.
It’d be all too easy to detract from the stats cold on paper. Beating minnows Malta just 2-0 and struggling Scotland is nothing to write home about critics say.
Less still being held by a very second string Spain side missing its World Cup winning centre backs (Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos) and final goalscorer (Andres Iniesta).
That cynical interpretation does Southgate a disservice. The Three Lions took their chances in clinical fashion in their Auld Enemies derby, while avoiding defeat to La Roja is still credible because Sergio Busquets and David Silva remained in the spine.
Keeping it clean in qualifying
Southgate saw a two-goal lead and clean sheet slip away against the Spaniards, but nobody has breached the England defence in World Cup qualifying.
Given how they’re playing out from the back through risk-taker John Stones, it’s quite remarkable Joe Hart hasn’t had to pick the ball out of the net. Thought to have spoken to Stones about his decision-making, Southgate has a thoroughly modern back four at his disposal.
Tottenham full backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose bomb on to provide extra width, while Gary Cahill adds the aerial and positional attributes absent from Stones. Eric Dier shields the defence nicely, and you can’t take that away from Southgate.
How’s this for a stat; five of the six goals scored by England from open play under Southgate are headers. Dele Alli’s tap-in against Malta and an Adam Lallana penalty that opened proceedings against Spain apart, it’s all about aerial supremacy.
Daniel Sturridge’s two World Cup qualifying efforts have been clever and precise headers. This actually highlights it’s not all about possession without penetration and Southgate is showing sufficient tactical astuteness to play to traditional strengths of English football.
The Three Lions have willing outlets to supply crosses in full backs Walker and Rose, plus wide options like Raheem Sterling and Theo Walcott. Long may that continue.
Continuity not change
Bringing in another new manager when the players have clearly bought into Southgate’s ideas and approach could actually be counterproductive.
The FA are often cast as a conservative governing body of the English game, but that perception might play to their advantage here. Southgate looks a safe pair of hands and further disruption is unlikely to prove helpful.
A four-match unbeaten run is evidence Southgate can cut it in the job. Now his credentials are established, it is far more difficult to make a case for new thoughts.
Who else is there?
Perhaps the clincher when it comes to reasons why Southgate should become next permanent England manager remains the paucity of other options.
Over the last couple of months, nothing has changed in this regard. There isn’t a fresh stellar name with a great reputation suddenly available that brings any enthusiasm with it.
Side with Southgate, then, not solely on the absence of credible candidates, but also because there are some virtues to a full-time appointment.