Gareth Southgate wants a decision from the Football Association within the next two weeks about whether he will be England’s next manager, with Tuesday’s match against Spain at Wembley providing the chance to make himself a dead-cert to be the 15th permanent holder of the post.
The 46-year-old said after the emphatic 3-0 win over Scotland on Friday night that he welcomed competition for the position, though the governing body are already understood to be strongly minded that he should now get a three and a half year deal, with a break clause after the 2018 World Cup.
Asked if it was important for the situation to be resolved now, thus allowing him to plan, Southgate said: “I think [we need that] for everybody because we’ve got the European Under-21 Championships to prepare for and the seniors have got the next round of games to prepare for. Everybody is going to want to know by the end of November, middle of December where everything’s heading so that we can decide who is responsible for which parts of the organisation’s work. Whichever body of work that is remains to be seen.” He joked: “It would be important for me to know what I’m doing after the middle of November!”
Harry Kane has left the squad and returned to Tottenham Hotspur to work towards match fitness, having not arrived from the bench against the Scots following only 73 minutes of football since damaging his ankle against Sunderland on September 18. But with Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott all options, England have not called up any replacements for the arrival of Julen Lopetegui’s Spain side.
Southgate – for whom Rashford, Walcott and Vardy are possible starters against Spain - felt that there was some courage in the way he asked the players to play out from the back against Gordon Strachan’s side and take “more risk” – despite the significance of a win to his hopes of being made permanent manager.
“It would be easy to say: ‘Scotland is a pivotal game in what we are trying to do so we won’t take any risks playing from the back. We won’t encourage the team to play, play percentage football and with better players we win the game,’” he observed. “Well, we didn’t want to do that, we wanted to play in a style which we believed was right in the long term, a style that would encourage our younger players. There is more risk in that.”
England vs Scotland player ratings
England vs Scotland player ratings
1/22 Joe Hart – 6 out of 10
Dealt with everything that came his way, though the few Scottish efforts that reached him were either mistimed or weak.
2/22 Kyle Walker – 8 out of 10
England’s best player in the first half. He threatened the Scots time and again with direct dashes down the right flank. Deserved his assist.
3/22 Gary Cahill – 5 out of 10
As the most experienced member of England’s backline, could have marshalled his men much better, especially right after the break. Still, scored the third with a header.
4/22 John Stones – 6 out of 10
The odd moment of hesitation and indecision undermined a largely sound display. Guilty of dropping too deep and inviting pressure at times.
5/22 Danny Rose – 7 out of 10
Not initially as impressive as Walker on the opposite wing, but came alive after the break and earned his assist for Lallana’s goal.
6/22 Eric Dier – 7 out of 10
Looks more and more like his country’s most accomplished midfielder. Not a special night, but he did the simple things well.
7/22 Jordan Henderson – 5 out of 10
Has his deeper role at Anfield inhibited him? Offered little going forward when, alongside Dier, he had license to run and get creative.
8/22 Wayne Rooney – 6 out of 10
An improvement on recent displays for his country but it remains hard to see where he fits in. His selection is always predicated on his world class talent, but it feels so long since we’ve seen it.
9/22 Adam Lallana – 8 out of 10
Brought all the dynamism and work ethic he has shown recently for Liverpool and was rewarded with his second goal at international level.
10/22 Raheem Sterling – 8 out of 10
Often bruised and battered, but kept bravely running at Scotland’s deep defence, and England’s fan finally seem to be on his side. Less said about the sitter, the better.
11/22 Daniel Sturridge – 8 out of 10
Maintained his recent good record when playing under Wembley’s arch. His flicked header was his fourth goal in his last six starts here.
12/22 Craig Gordon – 4 out of 10
Beaten too easily for each of England’s goals – particularly Lallana’s, where his positioning was particularly questionable.
13/22 Ikechi Anya – 5 out of 10
Did not trouble England down the flank as often as he could have, potentially because of his side’s conservative tactics.
14/22 Christophe Berra – 4 out of 10
Struggled with Sturridge’s movement, especially when he had Lallana and Sterling to contend with too. A poor display.
15/22 Grant Hanley – 5 out of 10
Should have punished England when presented with a free header off a corner in the first half. Slightly more competent at the back than his partner.
16/22 Lee Wallace – 7 out of 10
One of Scotland’s more impressive performers, he made sure Sterling knew he was there on more than one occasion.
17/22 Darren Fletcher – 6 out of 10
A willing but often unable presence in Scotland’s midfield. In his pomp, would surely have had his old team-mate Rooney under wraps.
18/22 James Forrest – 5 out of 10
Lacked a cool head when Gordon Strachan needed one and spurned Scotland’s best chance of the match.
19/22 Scott Brown – 4 out of 10
The subject of much debate after returning to the side, but this performance did nothing to hurt Charlie Adam’s claim to his place.
20/22 James Morrison – 4 out of 10
When he wasn’t wasteful in possession, he was inadequately attempting to stop England bypass Scotland’s first line of defence. Hooked in the second half.
21/22 Robert Snodgrass – 5 out of 10
Another one guilty of wasting chances when they fell to him. One of the few in Strachan’s side who can invent something, but failed to show that tonight.
22/22 Leigh Griffiths – 6 out of 10
Offered bright, intelligent play and harried England’s fallible centre-halves but no avail. Should’ve done better when played through by a white shirt in the first half.
England now face a football nation whose joined up approach between the age groups the FA has directly copied, having concluded that the lack of communication between the England manager and leader of younger age groups in the recent past was folly.
Southgate feels that his England side has displayed a distinct way of playing since he began work with them last month. It is more akin to the Spanish method, though he admitted that there is a technical deficit between the two nations – despite the mere two places which divided them in the Fifa world rankings. (Spain have slipped to tenth after a disappointing World Cup.)
“There are signs of how we would like to play,” Southgate said. “We have certain attributes in the team that lend themselves to playing in a certain style. In the top two thirds of the pitch we did that really well [against Scotland].” But he wants more circumspection when it comes to playing out from the back, especially from Manchester City’s John Stones. “I think it is decision-making and positioning sometimes: recognition on when to really commit to it and when to play past the first press.”
Though FA chief executive Martin Glenn felt that England were psychologically “brittle” this summer, Southgate said he did not believe the side tended to “freeze” against tough opponents. “I’m not sure we [do],” he said. “You play the big nations and you play against better teams with better quality players and so the game becomes more even at times. Until we develop as a team, we are playing against teams who are further advanced in their way of playing. That’s the challenge. That’s why those games are tougher.”Reuse content