Gareth Southgate: Five Natural Successors for the England Job

Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate has led England through a World Cup and a UEFA Nations League tournament since taking the reigns for his national team and has given his side their best finishes in major tournaments for years.

A fourth-place finish at the 2018 World Cup was the best showing from an England team at a major competition since the 1990 World Cup.

However, the former Middlesbrough man has started to come under fire for some of his recent team selections, call-ups and philosophies, with some claiming his tenure should come to an end.

There are no firm signs that Southgate is on his way out but it would be good to evaluate the potential candidates to take over when the manager does decide he has had enough of managing his national side.

Potential Successors to Gareth Southgate for England

1. Chris Wilder – The Best English Option

Sheffield United fans might want to look away for this one.

Wilder has easily cemented himself as one of the best, if not the best, English manager in the game right now. He’s worked wonders at pretty much every club he has been in charge of and has worked his way to the top the hard way.

Success With Oxford United

After a decent spell at Halifax Town, he took over at Oxford United and they benefitted immediately. During his first full season in charge, he led the club to the Conference play-offs and promotion by beating York City in the final.

In League Two with the club, he continued to go from strength-to-strength. Leading them to mid-table despite it being their first campaign back in the Football League, he then continued to battle for yet another play-off berth in the fourth tier of English football.

Promotions With Northampton Town and Sheffield United

Although he was unable to achieve one, his next tenure in charge of Northampton brought even more success. After initially saving them from relegation, he improved on that finish with mid-table mediocrity and then the League Two title.

After proving he could handle that league, he was given the chance to manage his boyhood side in Sheffield United.

It’s at the Blades where Wilder proved he wasn’t just a flash in the pan manager. He finally got United out of League One in his first season in charge, leading them to the title.

In his first Championship season with the Blades, he guided them to a respectable tenth-place finish. They went much further in the second term, though, sealing an unexpected promotion to the Premier League with a runner-up spot behind Norwich City.

When you look at how he has adapted to the top tier, it goes to show Wilder’s managerial acumen. He nearly led the Blades to European football in their first year back in the top tier, something that is often thought of as unthinkable from a newly-promoted Premier League side.

Proven at Each Level of English Football

He holds nearly a 50% win record at both Sheffield United and Northampton (his last two jobs) and has lost just 93 games out of his last 326. It’s an absolutely incredible record and shows the calibre of manager he is.

He may not appear to be the most ‘exotic’ appointment but in terms of getting a group of players playing attractive football above and beyond their level, Wilder is a master of it. He could be exactly what England need to perhaps try and finally win another trophy.

2. Jose Mourinho – The Serial Winner Route

The self-professed Special One is, no doubt, a serial winner. Having won titles with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid and having won cups with Manchester United, it shows that Mourinho certainly knows how to secure the biggest titles in world football.

Last Won a Title in 2012

The issue is whether he is still as capable as he once was. His reign in charge at Old Trafford didn’t end too well and he never did claim that Premier League title with the club. In fact, he hasn’t won the Champions League since 2010 and hasn’t won a league title since 2012.

He did, though, win an EFL Cup and it’s clear that, regardless of his playing style, you cannot call into question his winning ability.

If he could get England performing more to the fans’ liking than has been the case under Gareth Southgate, then it would be an excellent appointment.

3. Graham Potter – The Dark Horse Option

A bit of a wildcard for the England job is current Brighton & Hove Albion boss Graham Potter. He doesn’t have the greatest win record in charge of the Premier League club but he has won plaudits for the way in which he has been able to keep his side competitive and playing a fantastic style of football.

Impressive With Brighton

He’s managed to get Brighton competing as a solid top tier team and has taken the game to many of the top six on numerous occasions. His sides play progressive, free-flowing, passing football and with plenty of talent available to him at England, he could certainly utilise them better than most if given the chance to manage them.

Lack of Team Honours

The issue only lies with his actual individual and club awards. Apart from securing Division Three and Four titles with Swedish side Ostersunds (as well as finishing as runners-up in the second tier) he has no other honours to his name as a manager yet.

However, he’s certainly one to watch for the England role because of the way he has already made his mark and caught the eye in English football with his style of play and tactical flexibility. Question marks do remain, though – could he make the leap to an even bigger club and be successful as a replacement for Gareth Southgate in the future?

4. Arsene Wenger – The Legend Option

Perhaps ambitious and perhaps it’s too late to make an appointment like this – Arsene Wenger might have been better suited for the role in his heyday – but if he was offered, you would surely be a fool to turn him down for the job – particularly given his career compared to that of Gareth Southgate.

Impact on English Football

The Frenchman helped revolutionise the English game after coming to the Premier League and managing Arsenal, where he won three titles and seven FA Cups.

Wenger took on massive amounts of criticism during the end of his time with the Gunners for struggling to achieve Champions League football and falling from a regular title challenger to just ‘best of the rest’.

That’s perhaps the only worry with appointing the former Monaco manager as next England manager due to the fact that his most recent stint ended with him not being as highly-regarded as he once was (even if he did win an FA Cup in 2017).

High-Profile Appointment

It would be an extremely high-profile appointment, though, and could prove to be a masterstroke. He has been out of work since leaving Arsenal back in 2018 and, having had a break from football, a return to England and as national team boss could be just the thing to get him firing as a manager again.

5. Steven Gerrard – The Former Player Route

The final potential choice looks at appointing a former, regular, England international in Steven Gerrard.

Frank Lampard could also be considered, but Chelsea would surely try their utmost to keep hold of their former midfielder for the long-term due to his longstanding ties and legend status at the club.

Likely to Manage Liverpool at Some Point

There is absolutely no doubt that he will, at some point, take charge at Anfield, regardless of if or how well he fares as England boss if he was to take over. However, Jurgen Klopp is a hero amongst Reds fans and the club adore him and will not be getting rid of him anytime soon.

It means Gerrard could actually have a crack at national level before Premier League level.

Superb in Scotland for Rangers

It’s not as if he isn’t already proven as a manager. His first and only role so far is with Rangers in the Scottish Premiership where has lost just 18 of his 124 games in charge so far.

Although he has yet to actually win a trophy as a manager, it’s clear to see how well he has adapted to management and has kept Rangers competing with Celtic for the Scottish title as their nearest rivals and competitors.

Could He Succeed Gareth Southgate Straight Away?

Could a move straight into national team football be too much for Gerrard to handle? Maybe, but having been a regular member of the playing side not too long ago, he knows most of the current team and knows the set-up, so could easily slot back into the mix in a managerial role.

It would be a good test for Gerrard and a chance to let him try his hand as a manager on a whole other level, which could prove to be beneficial to the national side. If he’s eager to prove himself, he could lead England to success.


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