Gareth Southgate was recently appointed as England’s caretaker manager, and announced his first squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Southgate seems to have been appointed due to his work with the England U21 side; he led the team to victory in the 2016 Toulon tournament, and currently his side top their European Championship qualifying group with four wins and two draws. His first squad seems to include a combination of experience and youth, with uncapped youngsters Jesse Lingard and Michael Keane perhaps looking to enhance their capabilities as footballers by gaining experience playing with veterans Wayne Rooney and Joe Hart. Southgate, a former England international himself, may be looking to replicate his results with the development team on the full international stage, which may enable him to elevate his pedigree as a manager and perhaps succeed Sam Allardyce on a permanent basis.
Southgate does seem to possess a vast amount of experience both as a player and a manager, which may be utilised to achieve results. As a player, Southgate seemed to play at the highest level, playing for Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, eventually captaining all three. He also represented England on 57 occasions, scoring twice, and competing in consecutive World Cups and European Championships between 1996-2002. Ultimately, it may seem Southgate’s experience as a player has contributed to his success as a manager, and perhaps acted as a catalyst in his desire to add to his berth of medals received during his playing career.
The squad includes England’s most capped outfield player, and captain, Wayne Rooney, who seems to have taken any pressure placed on him this season in his stride, and as such seems to have been rewarded with a place in the squad. England’s experienced goalkeeper Joe Hart also keeps his number one jersey, whilst midfielders Theo Walcott and Michail Antonio seem to have been rewarded for their goal scoring exploits in the Premier League. The most notable inclusion in the international squad seems to be 18 year old Marcus Rashford, who during the last international break was applying his trade for the U21 side; he seemed to achieve an accomplished performance, scoring a hat-trick in England’s 6-1 win. Ultimately, Southgate may provide opportunities for fresher, younger players to play for England, as he may have monitored multiple players’ growth and form when manager of the U21’s, and thus may place them into the squad.
England’s opening qualifier ended in victory for the Three Lions; a 1-0 win over Slovakia courtesy of a 95th minute winner from Adam Lallana. Whilst England do have three points on the board due to the aforementioned result, Southgate’s appointment may enable England to play under a new direction, using differing tactics from previous managers; this may enable England to achieve chemistry and consistent results in the upcoming qualifiers. England may intend to use this opening win as a catalyst in achieving further victories, although with fixtures versus teams with seemingly strong defensive capabilities approaching, an opportunity may arise for all players in the squad to prove they possess the attacking prowess to continue England’s quest for World Cup qualification.
Southgate seems to possess multiple players at his disposal who seem to be playing at a high standard for their clubs, along with possessing players with vast experience. As a centre-half, he may have achieved an in-depth understanding of the defensive aspect of the game, and thus may look for players who fit his philosophy of a high work rate. Ultimately, he may choose to start players such as Rashford and Lingard, as he seems to have worked closely with them during U21 duty, and may have successfully implemented his philosophy on those players. Southgate’s appointment may suggest that young managers who seem to achieve consistency with the younger England sides may be rewarded with top jobs, yet if Southgate wishes to permanently succeed Allardyce as manager, it seems he may have to achieve consistent results in his first games, perhaps winning all four; if he is able to achieve this feat, he may be able to add England manager to his already accomplished CV.
How may Gareth Southgate make an innovative impact in his first game as England manager?