So Gareth is staying then

In what is the least surprising news, England manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed he is staying on as manager. The former Middlesbrough and England Under-21 manager has divided opinions since he’s been in the role.

One side argues, that his win success, only second to Sir Alf Ramsey shows what a sterling job he’s doing. I hate stats as they will have you believing CR7, is better than R9, kids on the internet behave!

So, to look at the argument in a rounded way, one has to look at a few points. The first one is results and Southgate does have a good win percentage, the sub-section of this part of the argument is who are the wins against.

Our friend, the stats will show out of 24 games against the sides that are in the top 10, Southgate’s England have won just four times. That can’t be dressed up, that’s a poor record.

The next part of the argument, that’s team morale. Under Gareth Southgate, it’s been outstanding. Gone are the days of Manchester United players being on one side of the dressing room and Liverpool on the other.

In this England squad, there is more unity, but also it’s a young squad, so there are no previous baggage or the Man United and Liverpool cliques that there once were.

I paint quite a rosy picture for the future of this England team, and with a valid reason too. Come Germany 2024, England’s side except for Luke Shaw, Harry Kane and Kyle Walker will be in their mid to late 20s.

A core part of England’s squad will be at their peak, which in theory will give England’s football team a real chance of winning an International tournament. Southgate has got to a Euro final and a World Cup semi-final.

To summarise. Cutting this man some slack, he’s on the right track is a notion I agree with to a point. What people on the other hand don’t appreciate is that with the greatest respect to Croatia, this is a side England should have beaten in the World Cup semi-final.

It’s fine margins, which is what makes the difference in tournament football, which can be said in Euro2020/21. The Three Lions lost out to Italy on penalties when the match seemed at their mercy.

Gareth seemed passive in both that semi-final of the World Cup and the final of last year’s Euros. Southgate was slow to react to try and seize control of the game in either of those matches.

In Qatar 2022, he seemed to have learnt his lesson somewhat. Seen as a cautious manager, a manager who applies the handbrake, rather than the accelerator, to his credit Gareth Southgate’s England did play attacking football this tournament.

Even against the now former World Champions France, England took the game to them. What cost Southgate’s England was that he made the wrong substitutions.

Bukayo Saka coming off must be something that will keep Gareth up all night. But having said that he doesn’t look to be that kind of manager, one who gets affected by pressure.

Which is a good trait to have. The next international tournament is in four years, in Germany. All the feel-good factor Southgate has created will mean nothing if he doesn’t win the tournament.

As long as I can remember, I have been frustrated with England’s press for playing up the chances of silverware of less talented teams, but this side although unbalanced looks to be the real deal.

In Germany 2024, this team of youngsters have the chance to be real men.

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