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12th Dec 2022

Gareth Southgate: Should he stay or should he go?

Callum Boyle

Gareth Southgate

Southgate has hit a crossroad

A few days have passed since England’s World Cup quarter final defeat to France and there is one question on everybody’s mind… should Gareth Southgate stay or go?

This was England’s third major tournament under Southgate and on paper, their worst performance, but as we all know, football isn’t played on paper.

The story behind the Three Lions’ exit was different to their two previous falls at the final hurdle. In 2018 and 2021 it felt like a missed opportunity but this time their opponent wasn’t as beatable as the other two.

Coming up against the world champions at any stage of the tournament is a tall order but to face them in the quarter finals is even more difficult. Sometimes, there’s no shame in admitting that the opposition is frankly a better side. That doesn’t mean England played badly, because they didn’t, it’s just a case of it not being your time just yet.

Gareth Southgate

There was a lot to be desired about England under Southgate in Qatar. The build up to the tournament saw a lot of criticism about a rather conservative style of play but this time around it seemed like the shackles were off as the goals flowed and defensively, they were as solid as ever but fans are expectant and wanted to see England lift the trophy.

Now the dust has settled it feels like Southgate and England are at a crossroad. For the first time since his appointment in 2016 it feels like the 52-year-old may well be considering his future.

“There’s lots of things in my head that’s really conflicted at the moment. 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 everyone to get wrong.”

Under Southgate, England have won six knockout tournament games between 2018 and 2022 – the same amount won in-between the period before Southgate’s appointment and England’s World Cup win in 1966 – easily making him the Three Lions’ second greatest manager behind Sir Alf Ramsey.

More importantly though, the former defender has brought what so many managers have failed to bring in the past: Unity. Long gone are the days where people would dread watching England. Nowadays, people cannot wait to watch their favourite players and have fallen in love with the chemistry and team ethos Southgate has implemented during his tenure.

Gareth Southgate

Equally though, it is entirely plausible to suggest that maybe it is time to move on. The seeds that Southgate has planted are continuing to grow, it might just be someone else who needs to water the plants for them to fully blossom.

Names such as Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel have been thrown around to take over at Wembley but the FA love to throw a curveball and appoint someone that nobody would have considered, like they did with Southgate.

Ultimately, Southgate has earned the decision to decide what is right for himself and the country and whatever he chooses to do will no doubt be the right call for England.

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