Gareth Southgate knows his job as England manager is at stake. Despite the seeming security of a contract running until the end of 2024 and a track record of reaching the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and Euro 2020 final, a five-game winless and relegation streak from the top flight of the Nations League has raised the prospect of Qatar 2022 is the end of the road for the 52-year-old.
“Contracts are irrelevant in football because managers can be on three, four or five year contracts and you accept that if the results aren’t good enough, it’s time to go your separate ways,” Southgate said ahead of the clash Germany on Monday at Wembley Stadium. “Why should I be any different? I’m not arrogant enough to think that my contract will protect me in any way.”
Time and perspective will ultimately serve Southgate well when it comes to assessing his time as England manager. He has restored the country to global power by building a side capable of playing in major tournaments and after emerging as manager after Euro 2016 humiliation against Iceland and Sam Allardyce’s one-game reign took command, it should not be forgotten what a negative situation he got into.
But at the moment Southgate is in the eye of a storm caused by poor results that have prompted fans to boo him and his team during and after back-to-back defeats to Hungary and Italy. His credentials are now being questioned – too cautiously; he lacks tactical skills at the highest level – and the race for his likely successor has already begun.
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And this is where the English Football Association (FA) has a big problem. If Southgate leaves his job for Qatar – he may decide to leave of his own accord before being asked to vacate his desk – the list of possible replacements will be desperately short and there will be a lack of convincing candidates.
It was the same story in 2016 when Allardyce – who was appointed to replace Roy Hodgson – was sacked after just one game in charge following an undercover newspaper stab, but on that occasion the FA had Southgate in their coaching system to look safe to act two hands in a caretaker role before eventually hiring him on a full-time basis.
There is now no Southgate within the FA system and with Graham Potter leaving Brighton for Chelsea earlier this month, the standout England candidate appears unavailable.
Southgate’s successor need not be English of course, but the FA have made it clear on many previous occasions that, having invested so much time and money in developing homegrown coaches, they are now committed to ensuring the A- The men’s national team is led by an Englishman.
So if that continues, whenever Southgate’s time comes to an end, the list of candidates will very quickly become extremely short.
Frank Leboeuf says he was “disappointed” with Chelsea’s performance in the 1-1 draw with FC Salzburg.
Forget unemployed elite coaches like Thomas Tuchel or Mauricio Pochettino and don’t even think of Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola or Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp. While the FA would certainly make an exception for Guardiola or Klopp – it would be extreme arrogance or short-sightedness to do otherwise – the cost of employing either of them means the FA would be forced to look for cheaper but less convincing ones , alternatives.
Potter remains the bookmakers’ favorite to be the next England manager despite having only been in his new job at Stamford Bridge for less than a month. The 47-year-old is seen as a bright spot in the FA’s coach development system, having completed his UEFA Pro license at St George’s Park, and his teams play attacking, intelligent football. But the Champions League is now the true pinnacle of the game, so it’s hard to imagine Potter giving that up to manage England just yet.
Newcastle’s Eddie Howe is the second favorite but, like Potter, is in the early stages of a club job that could take him to the Champions League. Newcastle is clearly rising under its wealthy Saudi Arabian owners, so Howe might feel like he’s going on a lottery syndicate before it hits the jackpot when the job in England comes his way.
The lack of a standout candidate is evident with the next names on the bookmakers’ lists – Pochettino, Nottingham Forest’s Steve Cooper, Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers and former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is now 72 and has not been since leaving the Emirates trained more in 2018.
If the FA is to stick to its ‘English-first’ approach then none of the above would be considered a suitable candidate, although it could be expected that Cooper (Welsh) and Rodgers (Northern Irish) both made their way through English have found system. England U21 manager Lee Carsley also won 40 caps for the Republic of Ireland despite being born in Birmingham. But if Southgate leaves in a few months, the two most obvious candidates work in the Premier League and have both gone through the same St George’s Park system as Potter: Aston Villa’s Steven Gerrard and Everton’s Frank Lampard.
While Potter and Howe are both strong candidates, neither can boast the international pedigree that Gerrard and Lampard have amassed as players, nor can they claim to have the lengthy experience of managing under intense pressure that Gerrard has in his 18 months at Rangers and Lampard has done spells in charge of Chelsea.
Gerrard’s struggles at Villa at the moment and Lampard’s failure to win silver at Chelsea have both tarnished reputations but it shouldn’t be forgotten that Gerrard won the Scottish title with Rangers and that Lampard gave the youth a chance amid a worldwide transfer embargo Chelsea gave, secured Champions League football and reached an FA Cup final.
Neither Gerrard nor Lampard are perfect candidates, but the same goes for Potter, Howe, and the other names mentioned. That’s perhaps why the FA will be so keen that Southgate weathers the storm that’s engulfing him right now. Unless they are ready to start with a clean slate and open the job to the best manager available rather than the best homegrown, Southgate could still be England’s best option.
https://www.espn.com/soccer/england-eng/story/4753879/are-steven-gerrard-and-frank-lampard-the-only-options-for-next-england-manager Are Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard the only options for next England manager?