In Brief

Southgate stands by beleaguered Rooney

Three Lions' new manager backs Manchester United star – but says England need to develop ‘more leaders’


Gareth Southgate will keep faith with Wayne Rooney despite the England skipper's brush with the tabloids last month.

The Manchester United striker was splashed all over the front pages after allegedly gatecrashing a wedding at the England team’s hotel. The reports suggested he had been drinking.

It was the last thing Southgate needed as he set out his stall as the new full-time England manager after being confirmed in the post on Wednesday.

But when he faced the press for the first time on Thursday, Southgate stood by his man.

"Wayne Rooney is the England captain,” he told reporters at Wembley. "I said that from the beginning of the interim period.

"What's also clear is that I've only selected him to start in two of the four matches we've had. It is not a case that Wayne expects to play every game. It's important we develop more leaders in that group."

Rooney was dropped to the bench for England's World Cup qualifier against Slovenia earlier in the season but he featured in last month's 3-0 victory against Scotland.

"When I played for England at Euro 96, there were leaders throughout the team," said Southgate. "Wayne has played an important part up to this point, but we also need to develop others.”

Southgate has been appointed England manager for the next four years, a contract that he says contains no break clause after the 2018 World Cup. 

Unbeaten in his four matches as interim manager, he faces a tough challenge in his first game as full-time boss, a friendly in Germany on 22 March. Four days later, England play Lithuania at Wembley in a World Cup qualifier.

Asked to outline his vision for the side, Southgate said: "I'm taking over at a point where the last two tournaments haven't been as successful as we'd like.

"There's big potential in the squad but a lot of hard work ahead. We've got a group of players I think are going to develop a lot and it's important to look not just at short-term results."

He also tried to downplay the furore surrounding Rooney's alleged antics and those of several other members of the squad, who reportedly visited a strip club when they should have been preparing to play Spain in a friendly.

"It is not disappointing," he said of the players' behaviour. "I think young people make decisions and I made plenty of poor decisions when I was a young player. It's how you react and learn from those moments that's important.

"There have got to be clear guidelines but it's also important that players take some leadership in that. Look at elite teams and there's a clear process of players taking responsibility in what that looks like.

"I like to treat players with respect, treat them like adults and there has got to be trust between coach and players."

Gareth Southgate appointed England manager on four-year deal

30 November

Gareth Southgate has been confirmed as the new England manager after agreeing a four-year deal to take charge of the national team. The widely expected announcement came after an FA board meeting at St George's Park.

The 46-year-old was interviewed for the role on Monday last week. As the only candidate considered for the job his official appointment was regarded as a formality.

Southgate "has been nodded through as Sam Allardyce's successor", says the Daily Telegraph. "He has been handed a four-year deal worth around £1.5m a year, though the finer points of a break clause after the 2018 World Cup and performance-related bonuses are not likely to be made public."

His rapid ascent to the top managerial role in the country comes after Roy Hodgson's resignation in the wake of England's humiliating defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016 and the short-lived reign of Sam Allardyce, who stepped down after being caught up in a newspaper sting.

That led to Southgate's appointment as interim manager. After three wins and a draw in his four games in charge he has now been given the role full time.

"I am extremely proud to be appointed England manager," said Southgate. "However, I'm also conscious that getting the job is one thing, now I want to do the job successfully.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed working with the players over these past four games and I think there's huge potential. I'm determined to give everything I have to give the country a team that they're proud of and one that they're going to enjoy watching play and develop. For me, the hard work starts now."

Although he has pledged to give his all, Southgate was a reluctant candidate for the role, and ruled himself out in the summer after Hodgson's departure, claiming he did not have enough experience.

"Southgate is a first-timer at this elite level and his time in management is short on high points," says Phil McNulty of the BBC. "The 46-year-old is, however, well aware of its brutal realities."

He spent three "undistinguished" seasons with Middlesbrough, during which time the club was relegated to the Championship. He was sacked in 2009, having won only 36 out of 127 league games.

However, he is "steeped in FA tradition" says McNulty. He spent an 18-month spell as the FA's head of elite development between January 2011 and July 2012 and rebuilt his managerial reputation after taking over the Under-21 side in 2013.

"He knows what the England job entails after close contact with Hodgson and Allardyce and has developed a taste for the pressures after his interim time in charge," adds McNulty.

Southgate to be named England manager after FA interrogation

22 November

Gareth Southgate is expected to be confirmed as the new England manager next week after his three-hour interview with the FA on Monday.

"The caretaker manager was photographed smiling as he left the National Football Centre at St George's Park having been interviewed by the FA's five-strong panel," reports the Daily Telegraph. "The 46-year-old is set to agree a four-year deal, worth £1.5 million a year plus bonuses, with a break clause after the 2018 World Cup that can be triggered by either party."

Southgate was grilled by FA chairman Greg Clarke, chief executive Martin Glenn, technical director Dan Ashworth, former manager Howard Wilkinson and former player Graeme Le Saux. The final decision will be taken by the FA trio, with the other two offering advice. There are no other candidates in the running.

"Southgate outlined his plans for England's future and explained his vision for the junior teams, which is likely to have impressed the panel," says the Daily Mail. "He was given no indication how the interview had gone."

For some the interview process has been nothing more than a "charade".

"With a respectful nod to Howard Wilkinson and Graeme Le Saux, Southgate was the most experienced football figure in the room," says Henry Winter of The Times. "It would have been a better use of everybody's time if he [had] grilled them, calling them to account over English football's myriad issues."

One of those issues appears to be player discipline. The Daily Mirror reports: "The first thing Southgate will have to deal with is the conduct of Wayne Rooney, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson on their nights out after the Scotland game.

"The FA – who have already banned booze and future nights out on England duty – have decided to leave it up to the new manager to decide whether the players should be punished for their behaviour."

Rooney was photographed looking the worse for wear at a wedding party, while Lallana and Henderson are said to have made a 220-mile round trip to visit a strip club in Bournemouth. 

Gareth Southgate will be lowest-paid England manager since Keegan

15 November

The FA may see Gareth Southgate as a safe pair of hands after the debacle of Euro 2016 and the short-lived reign of Sam Allardyce, but it seems they also see him as a cheaper option than his predecessors.

The former Aston Villa defender is expected to be offered the full-time manager's role this month, but will have to make do with a salary far smaller than those earned by Allardyce and his predecessor Roy Hodgson. Indeed, he is set to become the lowest-paid England manager since Kevin Keegan, who left the job in 2000.

Allardyce was said to be on a deal worth £3m a year, which itself was £500,000 less than Hodgson earned.

Southgate will not be offered that amount, but quite how much he will earn remains to be seen. According to the Daily Mail: "Southgate, who earned £750,000 a year during his time as England Under 21 manager, can expect discussions to start on a deal worth £2m a year including bonuses."

Not so, says the Daily Telegraph, which claims that the FA "has drawn up a £1.5m-a-year contract until 2020". Although that figure could be boosted by "added incentives and bonuses based on performances".

But could the figure be even lower at just £1m? According to The Times, Southgate "will be offered a basic salary that is double the £500,000 he earns as under-21 manager if he takes the senior job on a permanent basis, which would mean he is paid a third of the salary given to Sam Allardyce".

It, too, accepts the amount could be boosted by bonuses but says Southgate accepts the disparity, because "given his alternative career path with the FA at St George's Park and limited experience as a Premier League manager, he cannot command the same wages as Allardyce".

The FA is also looking to cut back. It sees Southgate as the "best man for the job, but is aware of the need to control costs, particularly having made more than 100 positions redundant in the past two years".

The upshot is that "Southgate will be the lowest-paid England manager since Kevin Keegan, whose salary was £700,000 when he was sacked in 2000", says the paper. Sven-Goran Eriksson started on £2m and negotiated an increase to £4m, while his successors Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello were paid annual salaries of £2.5m and £4m respectively.

Southgate set for England job after victory over Scotland

14 November

Gareth Southgate is odds-on to be named the next full-time England manager following the Three Lions 3-0 thrashing of Scotland on Friday evening. 

It was England's biggest win over the Auld Enemy since 1975, and one that puts them firmly in control of Group F of their World Cup qualifying group.

Goals from Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Gary Cahill sealed the Scots fate to leave England two points clear at the top of Group F and Scotland languishing second from bottom with four points from four matches.

Next up for Southgate is tomorrow's friendly against Spain but whatever the outcome of that match, the 46-year-old former England defender is widely expected to be upgraded from interim to full-time manager when he meets Football Association technical director Dan Ashworth later in the week. 

Ashworth will then discuss the appointment with FA chairman Greg Clarke, chief executive Martin Glenn and League Managers Association chairman Howard Wilkinson before a decision is formally announced.

Asked if the prospect of being appointed England manager intimidated him, Southgate said: "There are no fears with the job. It would be easy to look at the negatives but to work with top players and in big matches is what I want to do. From that side, no."

Unlike some of his predecessors in the job, notably the disgraced Sam Allardyce, Southgate has never gone out of his way to court the position, preferring instead to keep a more discreet profile. "I don't think it is necessary," he said by way of explanation. "I think you just have to do the job. With respect, I've seen people in this position before talk about how much they want the job and it becomes an irrelevance if you don't prepare the team well."

And although Southgate refused to be drawn on speculation that the job is as good as his, he did admit he was revelling in his role as interim manager: "It is not really my decision but I've loved doing it and I've seen some signs of progress with how we've played and from my point of view it has been a brilliant experience whatever [happens]."

Spain's visit to Wembley is the fourth - and final - match for which Southgate was appointed interim manager following the dismissal of Allardyce in September. So far he has avoided defeat but Spain represent the biggest challenge to date and Southgate has decided he'll take on the 2010 World Champions without the services of Harry Kane. 

The Tottenham striker, an unused substitute against Scotland, was released from the England squad on Sunday as he continues to ease himself back into full fitness after injuring his ankle against Sunderland in September. 

"The sessions we're going to do aren't what Harry needs at this time," said Southgate, a decision that will endear him to Spurs. "It was never really my intention to start him in a game and I think it's important that he gets a different training programme to what we're going to follow over the next couple of days."

Despite the absence of Kane, Southgate has not called up a replacement which probably means a first start for Jamie Vardy, who is without a goal for club or country in 14 games. "I don't want to change too much but there will be opportunities," explained Southgate. "We have competition for places but also want to keep the structure and momentum from what we did in previous matches."

Gareth Southgate 'to be appointed full-time England manager'

8 November

Call off the search. England have got their new manager and to no-one's great surprise it will be Gareth Southgate. 

The former Three Lions defender is seen by the Football Association as a safe pair of hands and, unlike the brash Sam Allardyce, not a man likely to bring disgrace to the role.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Southgate "will be appointed full-time manager after next week's friendly against Spain".

Only defeat to Scotland in Friday night's World Cup qualifier at Wembley could change the FA's mind but no one in the organisation is seriously contemplating losing to a side ranked 57th in the world [England are 12th].

England play Spain in a friendly next Tuesday and while the 2010 world champions will present a far more formidable challenge than Gordon Strachan's side, defeat would not alter the FA's decision to upgrade Southgate from interim to full-time manager.

The Telegraph claims that FA's insiders "have informed managers who had still harboured slim hopes of being considered that the intention is to announce Southgate as the permanent manager". Among those mooted as possible managers were Arsene Wenger, Eddie Howe, Roberto Mancini and Steve Bruce.

But the FA have been impressed with the way Southgate has handled himself in the wake of Allardyce's fall from grace in September. Though the Three Lions may not have dazzled on the pitch as they beat Malta 2-0 and drew 0-0 with Slovenia, it's acknowledged by the FA that a lack of talent in the squad rather than Southgate's coaching abilities were to blame.

It is claimed that the FA suits were particularly impressed by Southgate's decision to drop captain Wayne Rooney for Slovenia game, a player considered nigh-on untouchable by previous England managers.

Southgate refused to be drawn on the likelihood of his taking on the job full-time, telling reporters he was focused only on the upcoming matches. "I have been tasked with preparing for these games [and] I think it would be wrong to be distracted by anything else," he said. "My future is not important. It is to me and my family, obviously. But what's important is that the team is top of the qualifying group going into Christmas and that the country is in a good place with that."

But Southgate did rubbish the idea that few people in their right minds would want what is described by many as football's "impossible" job. 

"I don't think any job is impossible," he said. "I think certain jobs are more complex than others, but no job is impossible otherwise we would not have put a man on the moon."

Arsene Wenger for England manager: the tabloids have their man

29 September

Arsene Wenger admitted last night that he knows the words to God Save the Queen, further confirmation in the eyes of most of the nation's tabloids that the Frenchman is set to take over the Three Lions.

The Arsenal manager did little to dampen the speculation when he was asked about the vacancy following his side's Champions League victory over Basel.

Admitting he was "flattered" to be linked to the job, he said: "My priority has always been this club and, until the end of this season, I'm here." Asked about his plans when his contract expires in June, he replied: "That's not decided."

According to the Daily Star, Wenger "is interested in taking charge" of England in the build-up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, although there is no possibility he will break his Arsenal contract.

That means Gareth Southgate would be the caretaker manager until the end of this season, relinquishing the role in June. Wenger's first game in charge would be a World Cup qualifier against Scotland at Hampden Park on 10 June, three days before England travel to Paris for a friendly against France.

The Sun claims the Football Association sees Wenger as the perfect antidote to Sam Allardyce, a safe pair of hands and a man with impeccable principles. The paper adds that the FA is fully aware of his determination to see out his Arsenal contract "but are hopeful of persuading him to take the England job next summer".

The Star says that Arsenal won't stand in Wenger's way if he decides to take the job. In fact, says the paper, it might be in everyone's best interests: Bournemouth's "talented young manager Eddie Howe has already been earmarked as Wenger's successor".

Wenger's chances of landing the top job in English football will only have increased following Arsenal's sumptuous performance against Basel on Wednesday evening.

In a brilliant display of attacking football, the side dominated their Swiss visitors in the first-half at the Emirates. Two goals from Theo Walcott in the first half an hour killed off the tie as a contest, and but for a string of sharp saves from Tomas Vaclik Basel would have been routed.

"Overall, some excellent football," reflected Wenger. "I would say the game was of quality and the win was comfortable. The only regret was that we did not score enough tonight considering what we created."

Arsenal now lead Group A on goal difference from Paris Saint-Germain, who came from behind in Bulgaria to beat Ludogorets Razgrad 3-1.


Football’s pitch invasion crisis: what can be done?
A Manchester City fan celebrates on the pitch after his side won the Premier League title
Getting to grips with . . .

Football’s pitch invasion crisis: what can be done?

Premier League goes to the wire: the ‘most exciting’ final day ever?
Will Man City or Liverpool lift the Premier League trophy?
View from the terraces

Premier League goes to the wire: the ‘most exciting’ final day ever?

Jake Daniels comes out as gay: a landmark moment
Jake Daniels made his first-team debut for Blackpool against Peterborough on 7 May 
View from the terraces

Jake Daniels comes out as gay: a landmark moment

Messi vs. Ronaldo: all-time goals, career stats and trophies
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Messi vs. Ronaldo: all-time goals, career stats and trophies

Popular articles

Is Russian President Vladimir Putin seriously ill?
Vladimir Putin
Why we’re talking about . . .

Is Russian President Vladimir Putin seriously ill?

What would happen if China invaded Taiwan?
Chinese troops on mobile rocket launchers during a parade in Beijing
Fact file

What would happen if China invaded Taiwan?

The mysterious Russian oligarch deaths
Vladimir Putin has previously deployed ‘extreme measures’ to crush opposition
Why we’re talking about . . .

The mysterious Russian oligarch deaths

The Week Footer Banner