Gareth Southgate unconvincing when asked if he could spent a DECADE with England… but Three Lions boss remains hungry for success after five years at the helm
- Gareth Southgate recently celebrated his five-year anniversary as England boss
- The Three Lions manager refused to commit to a decade in the England hotseat
- Southgate’s England travel to Andorra for Saturday’s World Cup qualifier
- England could qualify for next year’s World Cup with victory in Andorra
As Gareth Southgate celebrates half a decade in charge of England, the big question is: has he got another five years left in him? If you look closely enough, the signs are there.
On the day a fire broke out at the stadium that will host Saturday night’s World Cup qualifier, it was clear the flames are still burning for Southgate.
His contract expires at the end of next winter’s World Cup. Southgate has hardly been in a rush to commit to a new deal, despite the Football Association making it abundantly clear they would like him to do so.
Gareth Southgate recently marked five years as England manager earlier this week
The Three Lions boss takes his side to Andorra for Saturday night’s World Cup qualifier
Football circles are awash with talk that Southgate fancies a return to club management in the not-too-distant future. Then there’s the biggest question of all: does this current England squad reach the end of its cycle after the 2022 World Cup?
Asked on Friday whether he could make it a decade in charge of the national team, Southgate’s answer was far from convincing.
‘It is difficult to set timelines. I always remember Howard Wilkinson talking about management when he was doing things for the League Managers Association and saying surviving in management is very often success,’ explained Southgate.
‘Football management is a very high-pressured environment, there is no question about that. But in terms of how long you would want to be somewhere, what I talked about earlier is key.
Southgate refused to confirm whether he will end up spending another five years at the helm
‘Are the team still improving and evolving? Are the players still listening to what you are saying? Are they still buying into the methods of working? I think they are the fundamental things.
‘It is hard to put a timeline on it but I think it is important to know when it is the right time to go.
‘Maybe, though, you don’t see those signs as a manager and maybe those signs are clearer from the outside.’
That said, Southgate’s commitment to the job is unquestionable. But the underwhelming nature of Saturday night’s World Cup qualifier here in Andorra probably isn’t going to get Southgate’s juices flowing like it may have before.
Once you’ve tasted a World Cup semi-final and a European Championship final, it takes more to spike your interest.
‘After the summer, the tournaments take a lot out of you — there is no doubt about that,’ Southgate continued. ‘The emotions and the disappointment also take a lot out of you.
‘But I feel as though over the last few weeks I have been able to move beyond that. The final itself will never leave you, but the energy and the ability to look forward is certainly back.’
No matter what happens after the 2022 World Cup, there can be no doubt that Southgate’s reign has been successful. Victory here in Andorra la Vella could mark another milestone in Southgate’s five-year reign, should it be enough to guarantee England qualification for the World Cup.
Southgate’s England could qualify for the World Cup with victory in Andorra on Saturday
‘When we sit here today and we’re discussing five years, that seems to have gone very quickly,’ he said.
‘But then each individual camp, each individual set of fixtures, there have been periods where that felt different, perhaps, but it definitely feels like it’s gone quickly.
‘There’s lots of fabulous memories to be honest — individual games, tournaments, progression of players.
Southgate enjoyed the reconnection his team have made with the England supporters
‘I think for me, the most important has been regaining the connection with the fans, from the lack of confidence and sort of apathy, if you like, a few years ago to where we are now.
‘Trying to get players to come, we had pullouts at the first camp. I’d only taken over temporarily two days before the announcement and we met up, but there were several players that weren’t interested in coming.
‘Now the players are desperate to be a part of it even though they haven’t quite been in the initial squad selected. So for me that’s a good feel for the way the players are, the way the camps are, that they enjoy coming and they want to be a part of it.’