Is Safe Southgate the right man for the England job?

Gareth Southgate scaled

Updated: Jun 21, 2021 8:53 pm

In short

Gareth Southgate is not the right man for the England hot seat. As a Scotland fan, I was feeling relieved he still had the England job in the build-up to euro 2020. He is spoilt for choice with options such as Kane, Sancho, Grealish, Foden, Sterling, Rashford, Bellingham, Rice, and Mount. But he doesn’t take advantage of them.

Reasons why

The problem is that he is a defensive manager who would rather play to not lose rather than going out to win. That was evident when he had two holding central defensive midfielders against Scotland on their home turf at Wembley. They had no creativity and there was no purpose behind their passing. Being a defensive manager only works when you have defensive-minded players. He doesn’t, he has approximately worth £800M worth of attacking talent in his 23 man squad.

He also planned on bringing 4 right-backs to euro 2021 but could not because Trent Arnold was injured.  In fact, according to the media, Gareth Southgate was even contemplating not bringing Liverpool right back in the first place. That’s interesting for someone who claims to be a fan of his right-backs.

Trent Arnold limping off in England's 1-0 victory over Austria
Trent Arnold limping off in England’s 1-0 victory over Austria

You also have to look back at their World Cup campaign in 2018. Beat Tunisia 2-1 which should’ve been more comfortable, thrashed Panama 6-1 which was expected, got beaten 1-0 by Belgium’s second squad, beat a poor Columbia side on penalties, beaten Sweden 2-0 which yes that is a decent result, got beaten by Croatia 2-1 in the semis (they should have won that) and then got beaten by Belgium again in the 3rd place playoff.

That’s the furthest they’ve gone since the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but I think people are over-rating it as considering the opposition they had that should have been expected of them in the first place?

The former Middlesbrough manager has also been criticised for not starting Jadon Sancho which is an interesting one for me.

“We’ve got some explosive options and  alot of them are young players and experiencing a big tournament for the first time. So as a coaching staff we are realistic about our expectations of them as individuals”- Gareth Southgate to the Sunday newspapers

Isn’t Champions League football classed as big tournament football? Because Phil Foden and Mason Mount who have recently become regular starters for England played their first full campaign of Champions League football. In fact, they both played in the final for Manchester City and Chelsea respectively.

Jadon Sancho has played for Borussia Dortmund for 3 seasons which translates to 3 full Champions League campaigns. Technically he has more experience in terms of consistency in the big stage of European football which can surely translate to major tournament football for England?

From what I’ve seen he hasn’t converted club form into International form, but that is what is expected from a 21-year-old they go through phases of good form and bad form. According to Transfermarkt, last season, he had 16 goals and 20 assists in 38 games. That is 36 goal contributions in 38 games which is sensational. That’s what can happen when you show faith in a young player as they need that belief. Gareth Southgate needs to show the same approach with him.

I get the feeling that if Southgate doesn’t make the most of the options he has available to him there will be pressure on him to leave this Summer. It would be a travesty if they didn’t win anything with this squad. I genuinely think their attacking options have a similar ability to the French national team. Their defence doesn’t match their attack but it’s still to a decent if not high-ish standard. Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Stones, Walker, and Pickford in goal who always seem to turn up at major tournaments.

With all this into consideration, we’ve discovered he can’t make the most out of his attacking options so how do people feel about his defensive tactics?

I’d ask myself if he were in Steve Clarke’s position could he have either matched or bettered the result? I think the answer is no. I think Steve Clarke is a better manager in terms of tactics and man-management.

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