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.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon


Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London