Gareth Southgate: England boss must lose muzzle for No.1 hit

Gareth Southgate has come as close as anybody to bringing England’s long wait for elusive major honours in men’s international football to a close. Having been in the right place at the right time back in 2016, the man currently charged with the task of making the Three Lions roar landed the most demanding of posts more by luck than judgement.


Moving from caretaker to principal is not a path commonly trodden at the highest level of professional sport, but Southgate grabbed his opportunity with both hands. He guided England to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, before coming agonisingly close to bringing football home at Euro 2020.






European Championship glory is back on the collective radar, with many of those looking to take advantage of the various offers and bonuses available on TPP prepared to nail colours to a mast that sees market leaders priced at 3/1 in outright winner odds. England have the talent at their disposal to suggest that a bid for a continental crown can be sustained.


Southgate has made no secret of his desire to bring more than half-a-century of pain and misery at prestigious events to a close. He has outlined his ambition to reach the very top of the charts, saying: “Am I driven by being ranked number one? Yes, because ultimately you achieve that through consistency and you’ve got to play well in the tournaments. If you’re going to be the top-ranked team, there’s no room for sloppiness or casualness.”


That has been part of the problem for England – there is always an excuse. Whether it be untimely pre-tournament injuries, uncharacteristic errors or pesky penalty shootouts, the Three Lions have a habit of falling over their own feet. Addressing those issues remains as imperative now as it was in the immediate aftermath of capturing a global title back in 1966.


For all of the quality that England can call upon, familiar questions remain – and many of those are of Southgate’s own making. There has been criticism of his tactical approach, which is considered to be more pragmatic than expansive.


Keeping creative influences on a tight leash, with one eye forever locked on ensuring that the back door remains bolted, is rarely a recipe for success. Does Southgate even know his best team? He really should by now, but there are positions from back to front that have uncertainty hanging over them.






If England are to get back in the winning habit, then those clouds need to be lifted – allowing rays of positivity and belief to shine through. Southgate may talk a good game, while laying out the most ambitious of short and long-term targets, but tangible success is never achieved by chance.


The Three Lions will forever struggle to rediscover their bite if a constrictive muzzle remains in place. Southgate wants to hit the No.1 spot, and has all the makings of a hit record up his sleeve, but it is up to him to ensure that lines are not fluffed again and that England are given a stage on which to sing loud and proud in Germany this summer.