It sort of goes without saying but managing the England national team isn’t exactly an easy job. It’s always been seen by the masses as something of a poisoned chalice and although there have been flutters of success since 1966, we haven’t seen anything quite like what Gareth Southgate has brought to the table.
Ever since taking over in 2016, Southgate has been in charge for three consecutive tournaments – the 2018 World Cup, Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup.
As is the case with every manager since that famous FWC win in ’66, he has been unable to win a piece o silverware. However, what he has done is bring a nation and a squad together unlike anyone else.
As opposed to the golden generation not being able to win anything due to their egos, that hasn’t been the case for this young group of lads. They genuinely feel like a cohesive unit and, both on and off the pitch, a brotherhood.
That’s a rare thing to find at this level but Gareth has managed it. In terms of results, Southgate became just the third England manager to guide the team to a World Cup semi-final in 2018 before they exited at the hands of Croatia.
At Euro 2020, with the final being played at Wembley, the Three Lions battled Italy all the way in the final before losing on penalties.
We follow that up with this year’s World Cup and in the quarter-finals, England were controversially beaten by reigning champions France.
With all three instances, there is an argument to be made that tactical decisions slightly cost England their chance at either progressing or winning the whole thing. That, in itself, is a fair statement.
However, in equal measure, Southgate has been able to pinpoint a system that works at this level. Between 1966 and the former defender becoming manager, England won just six knockout games at major tournaments. Under this man, they’ve already won six.
If England had exited this tournament in dramatic or perhaps even shameful fashion, we could understand the calls for him to go. Unfortunately for his haters, that simply didn’t happen.
England were the better side against France and should’ve gone through, perhaps if it wasn’t for one of the most crooked referees we’ve seen in a long time at this level.
Harry Kane’s crucial penalty miss will live long in our memories, but so will the idea that Les Bleus perhaps didn’t deserve their spot in the semi-finals. Tonight, they’ll play Morocco, and if they win that, then there’s a very real chance they will defeat Argentina to successfully retain their title from 2018.
England, meanwhile, have around 18 months to qualify and prepare for Euro 2024 in Germany.
That tournament is going to come around in the blink of an eye and we believe Gareth Southgate should be leading the boys into it.
The idea of winning a tournament in the Germans’ backyard is enough of an incentive but in addition to that, he just comes across as someone who is destined to finally win the big one.
It may not be today and it may not be tomorrow, but he’s got it in him.