Four matches, three World Cup qualifiers, two wins and almost a win against the 2012 World Champions. On paper at least Gareth Southgate must be confident that he has passed his audition to be the next England football manager and in reality I would expect Southgate to be confirmed as Sam Allardyce’s successor by the end of the month.
Of the four matches it is fair to say England didn’t play well until the first hour against Spain, and we all know that England are much better in friendlies than we are when the chips are down, but Southgate collected enough of the currency by which all managers are ultimately judged, points, to ensure he will be given a decent run at trying to revive England’s fortunes.
However poisoned this particular chalice may be Southgate is the ideal man for this job, he knows the young players, who he will be forced to rely on as his reign progresses, from his time working with the age group England sides and he has been there and, almost, done it as a player himself. Yet despite all of his credentials there are always going to be those who say he is not the right man but I have to ask these naysayers the same question I asked when Sam Allardyce was caught trying to put his fingers into the pie, who else is there?
Arsene Wenger may have been an attractive option but as long as Arsenal are still challenging for honours he will not leave the Emirates and England need to appoint a replacement as soon as possible. Steve Bruce, thankfully, has found employment at Aston Villa and Alan Pardew’s star must surely have died as his team continue to play like relegation favourites. Outsiders like Glen Hoddle must surely be discounted due to the fact if they haven’t yet been approached by the FA they never will which leaves the man who oversaw Bournemouth’s victory against Stoke at the weekend, Eddie Howe.
I admit I like Howe but, like Wenger, I don’t think he would be ready just yet to leave the South Coast club and I fear his chances of ever being given the England job will depend on whether he is out of work when England comes calling again.
All of this leaves Southgate, as labelled recently by a former FA Chief Executive, the only candidate. How right that man is but not, as claimed, because he earnt it but because literally he is the only candidate.