England vs Spain: Gareth Southgate vows to take on Spain in final game of his audition

Interim England manager completes his four-game audition on Tuesday night but will play for a win against Spain, even though that is a risk, because he is being true to himself

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The Independent Football

Gareth Southgate is determined to stand or fall by his own principles, and go toe-to-toe with Spain tonight in the final part of his four-game audition to be England manager. Southgate will know soon after Tuesday’s friendly whether he has the job full-time but he insisted in what could be his final pre-match press conference that he will succeed or fail based on his own principles, and would not try to imitate anyone else in pursuit of his dream job.

This means that England will try to play expansive football against Spain on Tuesday, even against a side with far more technical ability and top-level experience than England have. That is how England played against Scotland, admittedly against limited opposition, and Southgate will take that approach into the Spain game too.

“It would have been easy to say [of Scotland], ‘we have to win this match, we will go solid, soak up pressure and hit them on the break’” Southgate said. “Or do we try to build from the back, play with some risks, involve younger players and work long term? My view of the game is that you manage every game like you’re going to be there forever, and make decisions for the long term. In any club or organisation, you have to think about the long term.”

So Southgate will continue to play his own way against Spain on Tuesday, even though it might be more efficient to try to dig in for a draw. “Tomorrow what's the plan,” Southgate asked. “Go selfish, shut up shop, try to eke out a 1-0? Or do we say 'no lads, let's play with belief, go with what we think is the right way to play. We'll get some of those things wrong but we'll get a lot right.’ We have to think further forward.”

This is all part of Southgate trying to put his own stamp on the England squad, trying to play the same football that he tried with the England Under-21s for the last few years. Although Southgate has immense experience, he said that he has not borrowed too much of his own approach from others, but tried to forge his own way.

“You look at leaders, coaches, managers from all walks of life and see the way deal they with all different situations,” Southgate said. “I don't think you model yourself on one person, because I'm me. It's pointless trying to be something that I'm not. I've got all the traits and characteristics, good or bad, that I've developed over the years. The path I've been on in my life is that there have been through really difficult moments and I've learned what's been needed to get success.”