As a former Aston Villa captain, Gareth Southgate has more than a passing interest in who runs that particular club.
On Thursday he went out of his way to hint that Dean Smith probably didn’t deserve to be fired and at the same time heralded Steven Gerrard’s return to English football.
It is not the identity of Villa’s new boss that Southgate cares about so much, more about nationality. With Eddie Howe joining Newcastle this week, the national coach is eager to see so many English coaches in circulation simply because he would like one of them to inherit his position one day.
Gareth Southgate has an eye to the future and wants an English boss to succeed him
He was pleased to see Steven Gerrard (left) and Eddie Howe (right) landing roles in the Premier League.
One of Southgate’s strengths with England is that he sees, cares and influences a much larger world of football than, for example, the one that will unfold before him against Albania at Wembley.
The 51-year-old knows that despite all the progress made in his five-year tenure in the FA, at some point the right person must emerge to take it all in. And he would like that person to be English.
“I think we (in the FA) want to be there for young English coaches, any English coach actually,” Southgate said. ‘Eddie came to our last camp, for example, and we try to keep in touch with them as much as we can.
“It is great for them to have opportunities in the Premier League and to do well, as we will want five or six English coaches who can have this job in the future. That has to be part of our succession planning and the desire for England to get it right.
Southgate has come a long way, but he knows that the right person must inherit the project.
“I was very disappointed by Dean Smith. He has done a brilliant job at Aston Villa and is an excellent coach, so I wish him the best. But it’s good to see another English coach (Gerrard) in the Premier League too, and with Eddie going to Newcastle, it’s two English coaches appointed this week. ‘
Southgate’s reign with England has been successful and he will continue his trajectory of constant improvement as his team is sure to take the four points they need to ensure qualification for the Qatar World Cup in home and away matches with Albania and San Marino. .
Similarly, his time in charge has served to convince the FA of the widespread benefits of hiring a local coach. Southgate, for example, has managed to reconnect the national team with the public in a way that Fabio Capello and Sven Goran Eriksson never did. It also understands the broader responsibilities that accompany the role in the modern era.
He said he wanted to support young managers like Gerrard, that one day he might succeed him.
The coach himself is expected to sign a new contract once qualification for next winter’s finals is secured and that was unsurprisingly backed by captain Harry Kane on Thursday.
“I think I speak on behalf of a lot of players, but personally I get along well with the coach,” Kane said. “It has been great and his international record speaks for itself. And I still feel like we are improving as a team. World Cup semi-final, Eurocup final: we are heading in the right direction.
“Of course I would love for him to stay, but it will all depend on him, the FA and his personal decision. We’ll see how that goes. ‘
Almost inevitably, there has been a slight leveling off in England’s performances since they lost the European Championship final. Kane himself spoke of exhaustion. The hamster wheel of national and international soccer spins faster and faster these days.
Southgate is expected to land a new contract soon and Harry Kane has endorsed him.
Southgate’s team won well in Hungary in September, but draws in Poland and, most surprising of all, at home to Hungary last month means qualification for Qatar cannot be secured until Monday in San Marino, assuming Andorra don’t beat Poland tonight.
This should only be a minor inconvenience. Only defeat tonight would lead England into trouble. Poland could tie on points if they win in Andorra and, in all likelihood, place at the top of Group I on goal difference. Poland host Hungary in their last match on Monday.
The opposition tonight will be a game. Albania has improved and beaten Hungary at home and away since the summer. But England, playing near full speed, shouldn’t be fighting realistically in front of a capable crowd. The calendar year started with empty stadiums and thankfully a lot has changed since then.
He is eager to perform in front of a home crowd at Wembley against Albania.
Southgate hopes that tonight he remembers what happened in the summer more than last month’s effort against Hungary. “We’ve already had some amazing nights at Wembley this year,” he said.
“ We started with no one on the ground, so ending it with a full house shows the progress the team has made, the connection with the fans, and the fact that life is also returning to normal.
“It’s an incredible level of support that we get when you look at the other teams in Europe and we want to put in a performance that sends happy people home.”