Saturday, June 25

FA backs Southgate: We have confidence in him

The last international break was particularly tough for England. The two defeats against Hungary and draws with Germany and Italy have left the Three Lions bottom of Group Three and with no chance of reaching the Nations League final four.

Relegation to League B is a serious threat to England, who are still dealing with losing the Euro 2020 final on penalties to Italy at Wembley.

Southgate has come in for criticism in recent days, especially after the 4-0 defeat to Hungary, England‘s worst home defeat in 94 years. However, Debbie Hewitt has taken it upon herself to publicly back her coach.

“Based on any facts on the pitch, he is the most successful England manager we’ve had for 55 years,” she said.

“But the bit people don’t see is the culture he’s created. Prior to Gareth being the manager there was not the pride of wearing the England shirt. There was a club rivalry we would read about, players not getting on.

“He’s changed that beyond recognition and I’ve seen that for myself. I’ve worked in business and Gareth’s skills, his high IQ, would make him a chief executive in any sphere.

“That resilience and accountability. There’s no sloped shoulders, and that’s what you want in an England manager.”

She also addressed last year’s decision by the FA to extend Southgate’s contract to 2024.

“I think that’s 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,” she added.

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“Clearly we did that with proper discussion and thought. The fact there’s been a stumble does not make us automatically say ‘should we have given him a contract?’

“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.

“Gareth’s reaction, as in everything with that sort of conversation, was that it is his accountability, that 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.”

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