Gareth Southgate: Your messages to England manager as he considers future
“Conflicted” England manager Gareth Southgate is weighing up his future – so we asked the BBC Sport audience to help him decide.
Southgate, who has taken England to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and the Euro 2020 final, appears stung by “what’s been said and what’s been written” during his tenure, and said he’d “found large parts of the last 18 months difficult”.
In the aftermath of the quarter-final defeat by France, Southgate also brought up “the night at Wolves” in June when a 4-0 Uefa Nations League defeat by Hungary led to some fans booing and chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing”.
Football crowds can be unforgiving – but we wanted to give a deeper view of how you were feeling towards Southgate after England’s World Cup exit on Saturday.
We had 1,400 messages within three hours and here is a representative sample of what we received.
Over to you, Gareth…
Adam Greenwood, 28, London: I hope you stick in there. You have given me a pleasure watching England I don’t think I ever really had before you took over. Growing up all we ever saw with England performances at major tournaments was 11 players playing like the shirt weighed heavy and a depressing expectation that we would never deliver. The joy I’ve had travelling and watching your teams play and the moments it has brought me with family and friends watching together have been incredible. That’s the impact you and the team have had. Yes, ultimately we’ve not quite got there yet but you have brought us closer than anyone since 1966 and you have been our most successful manager over the time period you have been in charge. I really hope this is not the end, we are getting better and improving, finish what you started. However, if you decide to step away, thanks for everything, this has been the most enjoyable period of my life following England by a distance.
Mark Elders, 60, Haworth: You have the most successful win ratio of any England manager in history. All the negative comments we read are written by people who do not know anything about football and they certainly do not understand tournament football and why it is so different to the league football we watch week in week out. The England manager’s job is a footballing role unlike any other and needs a very special type of person with exceptional and unique talent and knowledge to fulfil it. You have built a squad of players who understand that playing for England is an honour and an opportunity that only a few footballers get the chance to fulfil. I am not only a football fan but I am a fan of football, and in the past 50 years of watching the game I can honestly say that there has never been an England team and a squad of players as good as the one you have created, and you can see how much each of those players want to play for you. We have a Euro tournament in 18 months and a World Cup in North America in four years. By then this group of young men, your group, will be at their peak, and I, like millions of other England fans, want you to lead them there!
Tim Bailey, 60, Anglesey: The level of positivity from the supporters, the respect for the management and team has never been so high. It’s not about winning every tournament, it’s about hard work and belief which England fans, management and this team have in abundance. Team spirit is what gets results. A great deal of luck is also required. It’s never been so good, please carry on. It would be amazing to win a tournament but it’s such a high expectation.
Elizabeth Hannaby, 62, Watford: You are the perfect England manager, look what you have achieved. The players love you, the fans love you. Please, please stay.
Callum, 35, London: You have done a great job since taking over. The mentality and togetherness you have developed in this team is far better than any manager I have seen in my lifetime. You can see how much fun the players have in playing for their country and you have created this environment for them to flourish. Whatever you decide to do, you have been the best England manager since Sir Alf Ramsey, and that is a hell of an achievement and England.
Sara Hagon, London: Gareth, I never want you to leave this job. You have done amazing with this team but more importantly the level of care, compassion and loyalty you show your players when they need it most, (against the wishes of the press and the “baying mobs”) is so admirable, never change. These idiots can only dream of having the integrity you do. Thank you for getting us to where we are and giving us hope for the future. Thank you!
Martin Radich, 49, Blackpool: Gareth, I can understand your need to reflect upon this decision. Football fans have outlandish expectations and if they are not met then their criticisms are vitriolic in the most crudest and unhealthiest manner possible. I’m hopeful one day these archaic attitudes will be eradicated and replaced by a more understanding and progressive response to a simple game of football. In the meantime Gareth, I’m asking you please to stay on as England manager. It has been an exceptionally long time – if ever – that I’ve been genuinely proud of an England team and its set-up. You and you alone are responsible for this transformation. Winning a trophy is not the entire purpose of sport. What is important is having a team that plays creatively and has its players be respectful of others and themselves; these endeavours reflect well on England. I’m not sure when the last time an England team was respected elsewhere but I absolutely believe it is now. You and your staff illicit dignity Gareth. Please keep fighting the good fight.
Rodney Towers, 83, Burton Leonard: Yes, Qatar must have been a huge personal disappointment but the fact is Gareth has made an equally huge contribution to rebuilding and fielding a great team of newly dedicated players, who have responded brilliantly to his ‘England Team’ management. My feel for the public mood in North Yorkshire is please don’t give up. We are wholly supportive of your continuing as the best England manager we have had for a very long time. Stay on with this group of England footballers and your most successful time has yet to come.
Kwai, 51, Northants: Don’t be too results-oriented. Let’s enjoy the process of getting good at tournament football. This England side is improving. The England side beaten by France would have beaten the Italian side in the Euro final last year. My advice to Southgate is go and talk to Andy Murray. Ask him how did he come to terms with losing four grand slam finals in straight sets? What did Lendl say to him to make him a three-times Grand Slam champion?
Jane Dan, 61, Manchester: Mr Southgate – you are a man who understands how to manage a national team. You have now got every player working together as a unit, not as individuals who happen to be on the same pitch, wearing the same shirt. That in itself is no mean feat when you have players who can shine for themselves rather than for their team. You are someone who has emotional intelligence – a rare thing in football management. You understand your players’ characters and how to get the best from them. You are imaginative, creative and forward-thinking in the way you build up your players so as they will give of their best. You are grounded, humble and respectful in the way you respond to interview questions and to the views of pundits. It would be a great loss were you to resign.
Arjun Kotecha, 25, London: You’ve done brilliantly. The players play their best for you in tournaments. You’ve made a whole nation believe in football again. We’re getting better each year and we were unlucky this year. Your positivity is infectious and has improved team morale. Although you should bring Troy Deeney to each tournament to score penalties. Southgate, you’re the one.
Emma Whitty-Haddock, 52, St Annes: Dear Gareth. You have taken on one of the most difficult roles in the world. During your time as manager you’ve shown class, dignity, intelligence and wisdom. You’ve taken a group of majority young men and turned them into a team that play, talk and act as though they’re are mature seasoned England players. It is clear under your tenure the boys feel happy, supported, content and most of all clearly managed. You have gained experience and knowledge from across the world and used it in your team’s approach. It is clear to see England have come a long way under your management and the future looks bright and I truly believe you will lead the boys to a trophy soon. A road is never completely smooth and there’s been tough times but please see that the majority of supporters, pundits, media want you to stay. But most importantly those England lads believe in you and want you to lead them to glory. Please stay, Gareth.
Tess, 62, England: I was five years old in July 1966: I’ve waited more than 50 years to see an England team as special as this one. You have crafted something magical with this team, and I am so proud of you all. You have given us hope, excitement and joy – and that doesn’t end here. “It’s not the winning, it’s the way you play the game”: my grateful thanks, and I sincerely hope that you decide to stay!
Gerard Ross, 53, West Yorkshire: Thank you for your decency and strength. If you do stay the only thing I’d ask is that like the English cricket team you try and be a bit braver and use your substitutes earlier. What do I know though, it’s easy to criticise from the pub. If you go, go knowing you’ve improved the squad in many ways. Cheers Gareth.
Rob Clarke, 74, Chile: You’re a nice bloke. You’d make a lovely Primary School headteacher. You’re not a football manager, because proper football managers want to win, not just lose politely. Compare yourself with Klopp or the new England cricket management set-up.
Arshad Ishaq, 52, Stockton-on-Tees: Once again a top team beats us in a quarter-final. The semi-final in Russia was disappointing, a huge opportunity missed. Euro final lost. Let’s be honest and maybe a little brutal here. Thank you Gareth but you have taken the team as far as you can. The results prior to the World Cup and having favourites meant a once-in-a-lifetime left-back may never get his chance to display his world-class talent as the coach does not trust him. The phrase “they have never let me down” will come back to haunt England and remember, as good as he has been for England, one of his untouchables Harry Kane did. Or as a nation are we happy and content with decades of failure? The nearly nation needs to wake up and appoint a manager who can utilise the amazing talent we have be bold and remove the cautious shackles of Gareth and move forward with a new coach. Thank you Gareth but the reality is you have excelled and have reached the limit.
Bob Wood, 79, West Sussex: Gareth Southgate appears to be a very pleasant, caring guy, but unfortunately only a mediocre football manager. If we want to settle for safe mediocrity, by all means keep him on. I would rather see England set their sights higher and go for a manager who plays a more energetic attacking style of football. This generally involves taking more risk, but I would rather see us fail aiming for the sky than settle for a comfortable second best. Managers such as Potter and Howe come to mind. The current England squad, with one or two exceptions, are capable of playing more adventurous football and progressing to a higher level. Sadly, Gareth has demonstrated over a number of years now that he is not the man to take them there.
Mohammed, 16: I would love him to stay but I think his time is up. He has done a great job leading England forward since 2016. He has done well against teams who we are supposed to beat but we have only beaten Germany and Denmark of the big nations and lost to France, Belgium and Italy. It is time to bring in Thomas Tuchel, who is known to win trophies.
Tyrone 31, Bedfordshire: It’s time to pass the baton to someone with the tactical knowledge and insight to get us over the line against major teams. He has done well bringing players from different clubs together and the fans back with the team but we can’t risk the best squad and talent in many years going to waste under the guidance of a tactically poor and ignorant manager. Southgate is a manager and not a coach, under his leadership we have been incredibly lucky in terms of being drawn against poor teams, beating absolutely no-one of note in a competitive tournament except a poor German side at Euro 2020.
Jonathan Alan Savitt, 68, London: It has been 56 years since we won a men’s tournament. Southgate has done a respectable job but remember in the past two World Cups, we played no-one of real consequence except Croatia and France and lost to both. It’s time for a new face. Southgate is an expert diplomat but is missing that vital ingredient… the scare factor. Fergie, Wenger and The Special One had this in abundance. I said four years ago we would never win anything under him. นีซ guy but has made serious errors of judgements in games at crucial times.
Cliff Savage, 42, Corby: Hi Gareth, well done at the World Cup! You all gave everything, we played very well, you got all the big decisions right. I’m very proud of everyone at Team England. You will need time to digest this one, that’s for sure. We went out again by the finest of margins but this England team is only going to get better. To truly compete at major tournaments you have to beat the best teams and this is where England have consistently failed for years now, and this is the question I believe you need to ask yourself: are you the man to move forward and change this one last thing? To give this England team the unwavering indestructible belief that whoever we are playing no matter who they are that we are going to beat them? That is what we are truly missing. When the chips are down and when it really matters at a major tournament against the best in the world, will we win no matter what? France believed that more than we did and that is why we lost. Kane missed that penalty not because of any other reason other than true belief that he was going to score. If you can answer yes to the question then I will be 100% behind you. Gareth you have been brilliant. now go away and be exceptional. Thank you so much for everything you have done and hopefully for what is to come.
Ibrahim Obseyeh, 33, Birmingham: He should stay as long as he realises he has got to have a Plan B and not leave his most creative player, Trent Alexander-Arnold, on the bench. And drop Kane! For all he does. he slows England down too often.
Stephen Barnard, 68, Letchworth: Stay until the Euros, then step down, win or lose. That will allow plenty of time for the FA to appoint a new manager with the next World Cup in mind, and it will enable a smooth transition between the regimes. Give it one more heave, Gareth. England now are kind of like where France were in the 80s and early 90s, knocking at the door but seemingly destined to be nearly men. Look at how it turned out for them with that golden generation of players coming through.
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