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Gareth Southgate: Fraud or Genius?

The England manager role has and always will be one of the most scrutinised positions in world football. Managers have come and gone without achieving any real success. Not since we won the World Cup 57 years ago.

Since taking over from Sam Allardyce in 2016, Gareth Southgate has taken England to A Euros final and a World Cup quarter and semi final in the last three major tournaments. He took charge at a point of turmoil in regard to England international football. England failed to make it out of the group stage in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and lost to Iceland at the Euros in 2016. That was the lowest point of English football in what was viewed as a golden generation of players. Whilst Southgate has transformed the England Team, the fans are his most harshest critics where nothing but a major championship win is competent. And he has still failed to manage that feat, despite coming excruciatingly close at the home Euros two summers ago. Many have called for him to move on, and are sick of these close failures when, on paper, we have one of the best, if not the best, squad in world football. But Southgate has done so much for this team behind the scenes, that the everyday fan probably does not truly appreciate what Southgate has accomplished in the dressing room, as well as on the pitch.

This, however, has come to light after the recent production of 'Dear England' in National Theatres and now the West End which concerns the path that the England national team has undertaken since Southgate took the reins. The powerful and eye-opening production is outstanding at conveying the true emotion from Southgate and his backroom staff behind the scenes. Something that we, as fans, don't usually see; it urges the audience to empathise with Southgate and his philosophies that are rooted in psychology.

Throughout the production, Southgate internally revisits his torrid memory of missing the penalty that knocked England out of the 96' Euros. He begins to omit his mental struggles to the team which only appears to bring them closer together. In the 2018 World Cup, England won their first ever penalty shootout against Colombia in the Round of 16. This acted partially as closure for Gareth as he channelled his thoughts through to his players in order to alter the way they go about taking a penalty.

Despite obviously being a fictional piece, the play ostensibly portrays an accurate depiction of the varied characters and personas inside the England dressing room.

Psychology as a whole in football has grown in recent years to become an integral element of coaching at the very top level. Southgate's contemporary ideals surrounding this has seemingly improved his team's cohesiveness.

Based off of this, it is impossible to disregard Southgate's success as the manager of England. Taking over at a time of turbulence in the camp and redirecting the focus into something that has a monumental impact on players both on and off the pitch. Southgate's time will eventually come to an end; he can't stay on forever. But he deserves the upmost appreciation for guiding England towards a positive light that can hopefully be continued by his future successors.

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