> Intelligent, creative, curious – Southgate just might be the new kind of manager England needs
manager speaking with such perspective did cause the clouds to lift.
It was unusual, given football’s insularity, to find someone in his seat twice speaking of football in a broader sporting perspective.
Southgate referenced the multitude of captains Sir Clive Woodward possessed for England’s winning Rugby World Cup team of 2003 and spoke of how “any high level sports team” must be able to perform under pressure.
He was not obsequious about Roy Hodgson, a manager whose side in France this summer had lacked players with the “big match experience” to deal with a knockout round match. He implied that there were improvements to be made on Sam Allardyce’s first and only game in charge.
It certainly felt like the nascent beginnings of a more intelligent, creative, curious England. Jesse Lingard’s role as “England’s best player under pressure’” in the 2015 U21s European Championships; Wayne Rooney’s intellectual development since he came across him playing Turkey at Sunderland in 2003; how he’d shown a list of his own career triumphs and disasters to his young England charges.
You don’t get much sense, speaking to the FA, that they consider Southgate their man for the future. Chief executive Martin Glenn will tell you that statistically a 60something man of the world is the one most likely to deliver as an international manager. The idea of hiring Arsene Wenger seems irresistible, elevating England to the realms of superpower status as it would. They’d pay what they have to.
But perhaps it will take something out of the realms of the ordinary to break what Jose Mourinho described two weeks ago as the “England disaster.” There was a lot of analysis this summer about how Wales had managed to accomplish what they did in France while England imploded.
Much of it all came down to a national association putting faith in Chris Coleman – a 46year-old, just like Southgate – whose inauspicious start in that particular managerial seat made the players feel supreme loyalty to him when prospective glory began to beckon.
The Wales story gives us reasons to hope that Southgate can do enough to retain the position permanently. He was too wise in this environment to respond directly to the question of whether he wants it but you only had to listen a little to hear that he was providing an answer. “This is huge for my family, huge for everyone who knows me and has… touched my development,” he said. – The Independent