Time to throw off the shackles

June 27, 2024 - 16:50
He’s the type of person who switches on battery saving mode when his phone drops to 99 per cent.
England manager Gareth Southgate may well be looking for another job in a few weeks. AFP/VNA Photo

Paul Kennedy

I once managed a children’s under 15 football team and it was hell. I hated every minute of it and was delighted when the team folded.

Spending Sunday mornings driving round Liverpool picking up players too lazy to make their own way to the pitch was a nightmare.

I’m no way comparing my exploits in the Bootle and District Junior Sunday Football League circa 1991 to what England manager Gareth Southgate is experiencing now in the Euros, but I do, in a way, feel a little bit sorry for him.

England have qualified for the knock out stages finishing top of their group unbeaten. Yet the knives are well and truly out for Gareth.

They haven’t exactly set the world alight with their performances, scoring just twice in three games, but they are still in the competition and I’m sure they are well aware that they need to improve.

To say Southgate has been a little cautious is a massive understatement. He’s the type of person who switches on battery saving mode when his phone drops to 99 per cent and wears a helmet when on an exercise bike in the gym.

An amazing result yesterday by Georgia means England do have a relatively easy first game in the last 16 against Slovakia.

And while it’s a game I expect England to win, supporters will be more keen to see how they go about it.

It’s time to take off the safety net, ditch the shackles and go all guns blazing to really make a statement.

But realistically, is that really something Southgate would do? Probably not.

I wrote a few weeks ago that the semi-final stage was just about the best England could hope for and I’ve not changed my mind.

If they do beat Slovakia it will be Italy or Switzerland in the quarters followed by a possible semi against Holland.

As for the manager, well I think it’s safe to say unless a miracle occurs and England actually win the tournament, I think his days are numbered.

He’s not done that bad, taking England to final of this same tournament last time around, but this competition will be his final games as manager.

He’ll find another club I’m sure and if not, there’s always the Bootle and District Junior Sunday Football League. VNS