The Football Association “would like Gareth Southgate to stay beyond 2020”, according to chief executive Martin Glenn, and are set to offer him an improved new contract, with the governing body seeing value in Germany’s Joachim Low model as it seeks to turn England into a top-four team in the world.
While there is an awareness now that Southgate’s stock has greatly increased after reaching the World Cup semi-final in Russia, and that the FA would struggle to compete with any future Premier League offer in terms of pay, there is also a feeling the 47-year-old has “unfinished business” and would be interested in taking the England project through to its completion for at least part of what is set to be a “very different next 10 years”.
The manager is currently on holiday but the hierarchy will look to open talks when he returns ahead of September’s international fixtures. The view at Wembley is that Southgate has shown himself to fit the ideal of what the English hierarchy would want for a modern international manager, as they seek to finally move away from the “historic variability” of the role.
The manager showed that not only did he know how to work with the team, but also had an understanding of how the side fits into the overall structure around it - something that has drawn comparisons with Loew, who has been in the German job for 12 years, and is now seen as the gold standard for modern international management.
“He’s really blossomed,” Glenn said at a press briefing at Wembley stadium. “He fits the definition of the modern manager we want. It’s not just picking the team but all the aspects behind it.
“We’d like him to stay beyond 2020.”
Glenn spoke of how Southgate would not just offer continuity if he stayed on for the long term, but also in terms of how he reflects the requirements for the role. The FA want to move away from the tendency to “look for a messiah”, in the manner that has caused such problems in the past, and instead have coaches who understand the entire framework.
“What I think provides the continuity for the German and the Spanish is not just the manager,” Glenn said. “The manager can be an important but not overbearing part. Part of the problem in the past been looking for a messiah, but it’s really about continuity in the technical department. Loew was not a star when he was appointed by Germany, but knew how to make the system work.
“We want to reduce this historic variability. Spain and Germany can have a bad tournament, but there’s this wider consistency. Southgate gets the set-up, and understands the talent coming through.”
The FA, as such, see the relative success of the World Cup as vindication they’re going about things the right way, especially following on from the victories with the under-17s and under-20s, but understand it should just be seen at the start. The objective now is to make England a “top-four team in the world”.
“The World Cup makes our work feel justified… it’s reinforced a belief we’re doing a lot right,” Glenn said. “Winning the under-20s and under-17s World Cups really convinced us were doing the right the right types of things for tournament performance, because that’s what we’re here for. But we know we weren’t successful. We know there are gaps to fill.
“We haven’t got a target [in terms of a date to win a major trophy], it’s more nuanced than that. It’s to be a top-four team in the world. We’re not there yet.
“The key word is consistency. There are big foundations to be built on.”
To fill in those gaps, though, the FA believe it is essential that England’s academy products get more game-time so that the squad playing pool is increased. It was also noted how Southgate himself has set an example in how he has added value to young players by actually playing them, while Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have been praised for so willingly taking the plunge to move or go on loan in search of senior first-team football.
“It starts with cap accumulation for young players,” Glenn said. “We need to keep doing that… It’s in everyone interests now that academy products get game-time. How we do this now is the big one. We’d love the player pool to be bigger. The number from the Premier League is relatively small. We’re hoping over time they come through. We’ve got to be open-minded about how development systems work. A mid-season break is a good initiative to increase the freshness of players.”
The FA will not be looking into any kind of quota system, as they can have “unintended consequences”. And while Glenn refused to rule out the possibility of ever again appointing a foreign manager, the CEO stated it’s “far, far more desirable to have an English manager”.
“We don’t want a mercenary or someone who wants to do something a certain way as we’ve built up another way. It’s far, far more desirable to have an English manager. We also want to make a statement around English coaching. We’re aware of the talent that’s in the game.”
The FA also feel that there isn’t a manager in international football with a support team as highly qualified as that around Southgate, with particular pride taken that only one player - Dele Alli - suffered any kind of injury during the World Cup.
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