The best Christmas present England could have wished for has just been delivered. Gareth Southgate’s decision to stay on until the next Euros lends a continuity to the pursuit of that elusive major championship trophy as sights are refocused for Germany in 2024.
Southgate, as the man who made the jersey one to be respected again, deserves the opportunity to finish what he has started. He has assembled an England side that can now be relied upon to go deep into major tournaments.
The icing on the cake of course is pushing on and winning one of them. There are those who will argue Southgate should have walked away for failing to deliver the World Cup in Qatar. As if that is some God-given right for England.
Sir Alf Ramsey managed it once on home soil but beyond him no other England manager has a major tournament record that stands comparison to Southgate’s. If a quarter-final, semi-final and final is not enough for his critics then they should teleport back to the 70s and 80s and the times when England did not even qualify for World Cups.
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Southgate now has the experience of six years behind him now and a team that believes in him. The consistency of their supportive messaging when he was thinking aloud over his future was striking. They can feel what he has done with the England environment, they live it and to them it smells like success waiting to happen.
In international sport there are always going to be obstacles – like a quarter-final draw against the defending champions France at this World Cup. And in knockout football there are no guarantees but England showed in the way they played against the French that they can go toe to toe with the best.
This is a good England team and it will be even better by the Euros with rare young talents like Phil Foden and Bakayo Saka 18 months’ further on in their careers. No wonder, for all the hassle of the job, Southgate felt like couldn’t walk away.
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FA’s statement on Gareth Southgate staying as England boss
“We are delighted to confirm that Gareth Southgate is continuing as England manager, and will lead our Euro 2024 campaign,” Football Association’s chief executive Mark Bullingham said.
“Gareth and [assistant] Steve Holland have always had our full support, and our planning for the Euros starts now.”