England manager Gareth Southgate is fast proving that he could overtake the great Sir Alf Ramsey as the Three Lions’ greatest ever head coach.
Fresh from a 10-0 win away at San Marino, recording their biggest away victory in a competitive game whilst booking their place in next year’s World Cup with ease, Southgate has also overseen an overhaul in the squad and delivered success in tournaments not seen in decades.
England Manager Gareth Southgate Could Replace Sir Alf Ramsey as Nations Greatest Head Coach
In 2016, following three years in charge of England’s U21 team and a win percentage of 73 per cent, Gareth Southgate initially ruled himself of the running to become national team manager after Roy Hodgson left the role in the aftermath of the disappointing elimination from Euro 2016. Sam Allardyce took charge but lasted just one game. The FA turned to Southgate. A successful spell as caretaker manager resulted in the former Middlesbrough being appointed on a permanent basis.
World Cup Semi-Finals
England topped their qualifying group for the 2018 World Cup without losing a game and eight points ahead of second place. Despite this, expectations leading into the finals were low; however, Southgate and his team performed above expectations. Qualifying from the group stages behind Belgium, the Three Lions recorded their first-ever penalty shootout victory at a World Cup, beating Columbia 4-3 following a 1-1 draw after extra time.
Sweden were despatched 2-0 in the quarter-finals to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1990. The nation came together as one with scenes not seen since Euro 96. Despite taking an early lead, England were defeated 2-1 after extra time by Croatia. The team had exceeded expectations and were praised for their performances with Gareth Southgate receiving significant admiration.
Nations League Semi-Finals/Third Place
Following their display at the World Cup, many were hopeful of another encouraging display. They were not disappointed. Topping their group, which included Spain, where Southgate led his team to their first away victory against the Spanish in 31 years and Croatia meant a semi-final against the Netherlands. A 3-1 defeat meant a third-place play-off against Switzerland which they won following a penalty shoot-out. The result saw England achieve third place at a major tournament for the first time since 1968.
European Championship Finalist
The closest England have come to winning a major trophy since 1966. The Three Lions topped their group which included the auld enemy Scotland plus Croatia and the Czech Republic. Germany were beaten 2-0 in the round of 16, the first time England had beaten the Germans at the knockout stage of a tournament since 1966. Ukraine were easily despatched 4-0 in the quarter-finals at the Stadio Olympico in Rome to set up a semi-final at Wembley against Denmark.
The country were right behind their team with scenes around the country not witnessed since 1996. Southgate’s team went into the game having not conceded a goal so far; however, despite that run being broken by the Danes, England won 2-1 after extra time to reach their first final since that famous day 55 years earlier.
Wembley, the home of football hosted the final and when England took a second-minute lead against Italy, the country believed that football was finally coming home. It was not to be as the game went to penalties. Three England youngsters who showed immense courage missed their spot-kicks and Italy emerged victorious. England had come a long way since the 2016 Euros and despite falling short, they proved that the future was bright.
Building a Young Attacking Team Who Will Improve
Gareth Southgate has not been shy in putting his trust in some of England’s best young players. The likes of Manchester City‘s Phil Foden, Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, Borussia Dortmund‘s Jude Bellingham and Chelsea pair Mason Mount and Reece James amongst others have all excelled and helped their nation to the European Championship final. Others are also on the verge of the squad with Southgate unafraid of giving youth a chance should they deserve it.
Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe and Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher, who is currently starring on loan at Crystal Palace were both given chances to impress in the two recent qualifiers and let no one down.
These youngsters, mixed with the international experience of the likes of Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Harry Maguire and Jordan Pickford, have given England an excellent chance of succeeding. The youngsters currently in the squad and those pushing for places can only improve.
The recent qualifying group for next year’s World Cup saw England score 39 goals in ten games. In 2021 alone, England have won more games (15), scored more goals (52), and kept more clean sheets (14) than in any previous year in their history.
England famously had their “Golden Generation”; however, they underachieved on the national stage. Some of the current generation have already achieved more in major tournaments than those once classed as England’s best chance of being successful. Now though, England could be on the cusp of the real golden generation.
England Manager Gareth Southgate Has the Full Backing of His Players
Southgate is currently in talks with the Football Association about extending his contract. It is something which his squad are keen for him to do. Defender Tyrone Mings spoke to the BBC following the demolition of San Marino. He said: “The opportunities he gives you and the belief he gives you is very special.
“What he has created in this England set up is very special. He has been a fantastic manager for me and a fantastic manager for England. I don’t need to speak too much about him because his record speaks for itself at tournaments. I would love to see him carry on as manager.”
A Tournament Win Would See England Manager Gareth Southgate Overtake Sir Alf Ramsey as the Best
The one thing missing so far from Gareth Southgate’s CV is a trophy. For him to surpass Sir Alf Ramsey, he needs to become only the second England manager to win a major tournament. Ramsey masterminded the famous World Cup win in 1966 and won a third-place playoff at the 1968 European Championships. However, just four nations took part. Defeat at the hands of rivals West Germany in the quarter-finals of the 1970 World Cup was followed by failure to qualify for the finals of the next European Championships and World Cup.
There is no doubting that Sir Alf Ramsey, knighted after the World Cup win, was a great manager and at present England’s greatest; however, should Gareth Southgate go one better than at the recent European Championships and win a tournament, he is likely to be seen as England’s greatest ever manager.