Southgate handed FA development role

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The Independent Online

Gareth Southgate has abandoned his tracksuit and has now been charged with getting more from England's young footballers.

Southgate was confirmed as the FA's head of elite development today, a newly created role that will see the former Three Lions defender work closely with Sir Trevor Brooking to improve standards of youth football and coaching, plus take responsibility for improving relations with England's leading clubs.

It is a move that the FA hope will allow them to make more use of those whose vast experience tends to be lost to the game if they are no longer interested in the management path.

And while it means Southgate putting any further ambitions on hold for at least 18 months, and possibly a lot longer, it is a step he is happy to take.

"I don't see it as a tracksuit role," he said.

"I love that side of the game but I view this as helping those that are in tracksuits have the tools to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

"I am committed to helping develop a greater number of high quality international players."

Southgate admitted his precise role still needed to be defined.

Clearly though, his recent managerial experience will be a useful asset in dealing with clubs as the FA try to avoid direct confrontation over the thorny issue of player release.

"It is not so much that there is resistance," he said.

"Inevitably, you have to think of what is best for your club and don't have time to think of the more general picture.

"As the FA we have a responsibility to do that because if a major tournament goes wrong, it all falls back on us."

Southgate, who will be allowed to continue in his role as an expert for ITV Sport, was anxious to point out he will not be part of any age-group coaching team, nor will he become part of Fabio Capello's senior squad as cover for Stuart Pearce, whose heavy involvement with the Under-21s is increasingly keeping him away from the Three Lions.

It should help put a lid on speculation that Southgate has been lined up as Capello's successor.

Instead, the former Middlesbrough chief wants to concentrate his energies on grooming the next generation of England managers, to ensure the experiment of 'going continental' does not have to be repeated.

"We need to develop more quality coaches," he said.

"When I was at Middlesbrough, I was very conscious that some people were excellent coaches at youth level but they were always looking to go to higher age groups, for financial reasons as much as anything else.

"But if people are the best in the country at coaching under-13s, we need to reward them for that."