Comment: Give Gareth Southgate a chance - the FA had few options in their task to appoint a new England Under-21s manager

Young English coaches deserve not to be written off so early in their careers - including the former Middlesbrough manager

When it came to appointing a new Under-21s manager as a successor to Stuart Pearce, the Football Association wanted an exciting dynamic English coach with a track record of being able to inspire a generation of players for whom - the fear is - representing England ranks low in their priorities.

Needless to say, they were not overwhelmed with options.

First of all it should be said that the appointment of Gareth Southgate adheres to the FA’s policy that the candidate should be English, a choice that can be related closely to the opening of St George’s Park. The mecca for the development of English coaches, the FA believes that filling their top positions with non-English appointments would send out the wrong message.

The all-English short-list numbered three - Southgate, Steve McClaren and Michael Appleton - and although an impressive coach it meant that Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant, Rene Meuelensteen was never an option. As ever with an FA appointment, the governing body are confronted with difficult decisions at every stage - the nationality of the coach being as controversial as any other.

It is a personal view that it would have been a bleak indictment of English coaching to appoint a non-native. Bleak, although perhaps realistic. Nevertheless, an English appointment at least demonstrates a faith in the English coach which, at a time when only five Premier League clubs have English managers (two of them promoted from the Championship last season), it behoves the governing body to do.

Having made that decision, the appointment panel comprising the Club England board Sir Trevor Brooking, Dan Ashworth and Adrian Bevington, as well as new FA chairman Greg Dyke, will have known that the appointment was always likely to be a hard sell.

Undeniably Southgate, 42, does not have a CV as strong as other coaches his age across Europe. He was relegated from the Premier League with Middlesbrough at the end of the 2008-2009 season, and left his job as the FA’s head of elite development little more than a year ago - and thus removed himself from the running for the technical director’s role. Since then his main job has been as an ITV pundit.

Yet in his defence, he suffers from a trend that afflicts a lot of young English managers. They only need one bad season to be written off as a failure very early in their careers and, more often than not, the sack follows. It is a consistent theme and one that has prompted some of the latest retirees, like Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville, to take refuge in punditry.

In the early careers of many foreign managers who have been successful in the Premier League there is a common theme, one where they are given second and third chances after difficult episodes in their early career. Arsene Wenger was relegated with Nancy in 1987 but came back into football with the Monaco job. Rafa Benitez was sacked by Osasuna and Extremadura but was not consigned to the scrapheap.

Andre Villas-Boas was given the Porto job only seven months into his managerial career and when it all went wrong for him at Chelsea, Tottenham gave him a job last summer. Even Sir Alex Ferguson was sacked by St Mirren in 1978. Brendan Rodgers lost his job at Reading after six months. There is a strong argument that a manager who has fallen on his face is less likely to make the same mistakes twice.

The same would go for Steve McClaren. Unfortunately for him, a brief spell at Nottingham Forest aside, he has found that England’s failed Euro 2008 qualifying campaign has made him too toxic for English clubs.

Steve McClaren has struggled to get jobs with English clubs (PA) Steve McClaren has struggled to get jobs with English clubs (PA)

If English football is to write off English coaches as quickly as it does, then what chance have they got alongside European counterparts? Given the pessimism that the England teams are viewed with, it is inevitable that a former FA employee returning to the organisation is regarded as uninspiring appointment by some. But Southgate, indeed his generation of coaches, deserves more than just one chance.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own