Gareth Southgate has given his biggest hint yet he is ready to draw a line under his six-year stint as England manager. FA chief executive Mark Bullingham remains wholeheartedly in support of the 52-year-old despite England’s quarter-final exit against France on Saturday.
The FA are keen for him to lead England into the European Championships in Germany and honour a contract which runs until December 2024. But after a period in which the team were booed off the pitch at Molineux following the defeat to Hungary and his tactics were permanently questioned, Southgate is thinking he may have had enough.
“I’ve found large parts of the last 18 months difficult,” he said. “For everything that I’ve loved about the last few weeks, I still have it in my mind about those 18 months.
“What’s been said and what’s been written, the night at Wolves, there’s lots of things in my head that’s really conflicted at the moment. So what I want to be sure of, if it’s the right thing to stay, is that I’ve definitely got the energy to do that.
“I don’t want to be four or five months down the line thinking I’ve made the wrong call. It’s too important for everybody to get that wrong.”
England flew back with their tails between their legs despite a strong performance in the 2-1 defeat and Southgate seemed at his lowest ebb since reluctantly taking the job in the aftermath of the Iceland debacle and Sam Allardyce’s brief reign in September 2016.
However, he retains the overwhelming support of his entire dressing room and will take time out with his family following a full debrief to come to a final decision on his future.
“When I’ve been through the past few tournaments my emotions have been difficult to really think through properly in those following few weeks,” Southgate recalled.
“It took so much energy out of you and you have so much going through your mind. I want to make the right decision either way because it has to be the right one to go again, or the right one not to go again and I don’t think tonight is the time to make a decision like that.
“Neither are the next few days really. After every tournament, I’ve sat with everybody at the FA and talked things through logically and I think that’s the right process to go through again.”