Euro 2024: Southgate’s Last Major International Competition?

It really does feel like now or never as far as the England national team are concerned. Gareth Southgate enters the 2024 European Championships with a plethora of talent as the Three Lions head to Germany as one of the favourites for the competition and to finally end their long wait for international silverware. 


Euro 2020 represented another positive step for England. Despite losing to Italy on penalties, they had gone another round further than their semi-final exit to Croatia at the 2018 World Cup. Still, the following tournament in Qatar flattered to deceive and exposed the cracks in Southgate’s tactical approach. 


Indeed, the 2-1 loss to France in Qatar showcased this England side need to get better at beating the top sides. The manager’s record against the top 10 FIFA-ranked nations is poor, winning just seven games in 23 attempts, and the loss to Brazil at Wembley has many doubting his acumen ahead of what is a massive summer for English football. 


Tensions rising 


Understandably, frustration has mounted from the Three Lions faithful, but Southgate deserves this tournament to prove he is the man for the job. The former Middlesborough midfielder is well aware of the danger looming if he doesn’t deliver, but hasn’t ruled out the possibility of staying at the helm beyond Euro 2024. 


“There’s a fair chance half the coaches won’t be here after the Euros. That’s international football,“ he said


“You’ve got to see how the summer goes – it’s as simple as that. I know what we’re capable of achieving in the summer, I know what my own benchmark of success would be, after that I’m not really thinking about anything else.


“We’ve got to deliver a performance and you’ve got to make the best decisions for everybody. I won’t be in a position to make that decision before the tournament.”


Has Southgate built a legacy? 


The expectations for England in Euro 2024 are high, given their recent performances and the talented squad at Southgate’s disposal but when you look back at the squad he inherited after Sam Allardyce lasted just one game in charge, he has to be given credit for turning things around. 


As many agree, Southgate is credited for bringing back the footballing culture within the England camp. Previous golden generations, including teams that had the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and Wayne Rooney, all went to the Euros and World Cups on the back of competitive seasons, and it was clear that domestic competitive spirit had passed over to the England camp. Players would not talk to each other and stick in cliques based on the clubs they played for back in the Premier League. However, Southgate and his backroom staff including Steve Holland, who won titles with Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, have improved things.


You only need to look at videos from inside the club’s training at St George’s Park to see the community vibe that has been instilled within the current crop of England players. Luke Shaw, a regular in the side throughout Southgate’s tenure, even came into the training facility when injured to do his rehab to be a part of the group. Players enjoy playing for England and that is something that hasn’t always been said in years gone by.


Performance Expectations


England will arrive in Germany knowing they have to be looking to win the tournament, with the best UK betting apps tipping them and France as favourites to lift the trophy. Their campaign begins with a tough tie against Serbia, but one they should win, before facing Denmark and then Slovenia. 


From there, the luck of the draw might be required to avoid France until the final in Berlin at the Olympiastadion, but it’s important not to overlook the hosts as well. Julian Nagelsmann is a far superior coach compared to Southgate tactically and was very harshly dismissed from Bayern Munich, although inherits a large portion of the Bavarians in this new-look Germany side that is far changed from the one England beat in Euro 2020. 


With several club sides including Manchester United rumoured to be interested in Southgate’s signature following Euro 2024, he will likely land on his feet if his time with England is up. He has perhaps taken this side as far as it can go and now a decision will be made if he has what it takes to get over the line and deliver a trophy, or else many will expect his time with the Three Lions is up. Southgate has provided fans with lots of great tournament memories over the years, but silverware is the currency of success in international football, and now he has to start paying the bills.