Is There A Better Option Out There Than Gareth Southgate?
November 21, 2016
The interim reign of Gareth Southgate has failed to grip or ignite the overwhelming sense of expectation associated with the national team, but his impending coronation as the next England manager appears to be set in stone.
In many ways, it will be the classic FA appointment – safe without being spectacular and cautious without being ostentatious. Then again, is there an alternative name out there? Seeking restoration maybe the FA’s most commonsensical judgement in recent times, especially following on from the Sam Allardyce debacle which further tarnished a governing body seemingly beleaguered with humiliation.
With Southgate’s appointment likely to be confirmed later this month, are there any other contenders that should be considered for one of the most challenging jobs in world football? We have compiled a shortlist of managerial candidates and discussed their chances of conquering the ultimate poisoned chalice.
Southgate’s four-game period in charge has steadied a ship which had sunk to an all-time low following the shambolic performance against the Nordic minnows of Iceland back in June.
The former Middlesborough manager has managed to lead his team to two wins and two draws in this time, although his record has certainly flattered to deceive. A fortuitous draw in Slovenia paved the way for a fallacious 3-0 victory over the ‘The Auld Enemy’ – a battle that is far too sporadic in the modern era, but one that has defined Southgate’s short tenure and all but secured him the full-time position.
England are now 32 games undefeated in qualifying matches, but it fails to mask the reality that the Three Lions are unable to deliver on their promise at a major tournament. The jury is still out on Southgate when it comes to the crunch – his U21s team failed to win a game at the 2015 European Championships.
Before Allardyce’s infamous one match spell, Harry Redknapp claimed that Southgate being tipped as favourite to succeed Roy Hodgson as England manager was “scary”. However, this future announcement should not be greeted with apprehension, but also exempt from overriding anticipation – he is the FA’s archetype, their ideal and their desire for stability. Expect nothing more, expect nothing less.
His track record shines brightest amongst the crowd with his longevity at Arsenal testament to his philosophy and stubbornness to sacrifice style over substance. He has guided the North-London club into the Champions League for 19 successive seasons and has been the architect behind three top-flight crowns and six FA Cups, with his invincible side of 2004 arguably the greatest in Premier League history.
The Frenchman’s contract at the Emirates expires in the summer and Wenger has categorically said that he would never rule out becoming the next England boss.
Despite his failure to command the summit of English football for the last 12 campaigns, Wenger is widely respected in the footballing world with his technical evaluation and unwavering consistency his strongest attributes. The 66-year-old would not be daunted by the mountains he would have to climb to rebuild a team labelled as “the most overrated national team” by Iceland’s joint manager Lars Lagerback. Choosing Wenger would be bold and ambitious – traits that the FA tend to avoid.
The Italian led Inter Milan to three consecutive Serie A triumphs and notably brought the Premier League title to the blue half of Manchester after a breathtaking final day in a tale of unrivalled drama. Despite failing to take the club into the knockout stages of the Champions League, Mancini managed to guide his next club Galatasaray into the last 16 of Europe’s elite, as well as enjoy success on a domestic level by lifting the 2014 Turkish Cup.
His pragmatic management approach and focus on solidarity is emblematic of his country’s Catenaccio style of football where the major emphasis is on tightening the defence. The 51-year-old is also a shrewd operator with the media, often using them to alleviate pressure from his players – a ploy which would reduce the significant psychological barrier that the current crop of England stars seem possessed by.
In a managerial career spanning 17 years, the current Crystal Palace manager has put down strong roots wherever he has taken the reigns, but failed to pull up any noteworthy trees. Has guided West Ham and his present employers to the FA Cup final, only to fall down with the finishing line in touching distance.
Pardew appears to struggle with teams after making an initial impact and last season is a characteristic representation of this. After a promising start to the campaign and some striking scalps, there was talk of the Eagles finishing in the Europa League places. However, Palace then embarked on a 14-game winless run and it is these poor runs of form that have led to him walking away from previous posts.
Howe is widely recognised as one of the most talented young English managers in the game with his strong work ethic and innovative training methods the catalyst behind Bournemouth’s remarkable rise to the Premier League.
The 38-year-old has managed to integrate his side’s attractive style of play into the top-flight without compromising on results and he continues to gather plaudits at a rapid rate.
Howe has previously stated that he is “”very much against signing a player who is good, but you don’t know where he will fit in.” Would he have the courage to drop England’s leading lights to ensure his jigsaw could be assembled?
Some will point and say that he is still too inexperienced for the top job, but there is no doubt that Howe has the credentials and ambition to be a successful England manager in the future.