Gareth Southgate has received an overwhelming public vote of support from his FA bosses.
Football Association chair Debbie Hewitt insisted that Southgate has improved the whole England set-up “beyond recognition” and is the best manager the country has had for 55 years. It was a clear sign that Southgate retains the full backing of the FA despite going through the most difficult weeks of his six year reign as England boss.
Southgate signed a new deal until December 2024 late last year and must now change the public mood before the World Cup in Qatar this winter. But Hewitt offered her full support and said: “The first thing I’d say, my personal opinion on Gareth he is by and facts on the pitch the most successful England manager we’ve had for 55 years.
“The fact he’s taken us to a World Cup semi-final and a Euros final. The bit people don’t see as much is the Gareth at camp and the culture he’s created. Certainly prior to Gareth being the manager of England there was not the pride of wearing the England shirt.
“There were the club rivalries we’d read about. The players not getting on. He’s changed that beyond recognition and I’ve seen that first hand. I’d also say, I don’t just work in football I work in business and I’ve worked with a lot of chief executives and Gareth’s skills — his high IQ and high EQ — would make him a chief exec in any sphere. And that resilience and accountability, the two qualities I admire most about him, is he takes the accountability, there’s no sloping shoulders, he doesn’t huff, he’s resilient and that’s what you want in an England manager.”
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Hewitt revealed she had spoken to Southgate after the Hungary defeat – which was the fourth game in the Nations League campaign this month with England drawing two and losing two without scoring a goal from open play – and also doubled down on giving him a new contract. There has been criticism of the FA for jumping too soon and giving Southgate a new contract last year rather than biding their time which is a mistake they have done in the past, most notably with Fabio Capello before the 2010 World Cup which went badly.
Hewitt added: “Absolutely I’ve spoken to him, yes. Gareth’s reaction, as in everything with that sort of conversation, was that it is his accountability, there’s always something to learn. That’s why it’s refreshing working with somebody like that because that openness to learn is quite remarkable and quite unusual in any sphere.
“I think the contract is a bit of a red herring in a sense, because I don’t think we would be discussing it had we not had the recent series of games. Clearly we did that with proper discussion and thought. The fact that there’s been a stumble does not make us automatically say: ‘should we have given him a contract?’ It is a red herring. We have confidence in Gareth for all the reasons I described and I think that’s the important thing. And it’s particularly important going into the biggest tournament.”