Berhalter's friendship with Southgate on 'hiatus' as England boss deals with 'different' pressure

The FA Collection

Gregg Berhalter is not speaking to Gareth Southgate – or at least Southgate is not speaking to Berhalter – but the United States head coach knows the huge pressure his England counterpart is under.

Berhalter and Southgate have grown close in recent years as they have led their countries' respective national teams, with the USMNT boss describing Southgate as a "mentor" after the two sides were drawn together at the World Cup.

The outcome of that draw has seen the pair drift apart of late, however, ahead of a meeting between the USMNT and England at Al Bayt Stadium on Friday.

"I've been WhatsApping him, but I haven't seen the blue checkmarks, so I don't know what's going on," Berhalter said with a smile on Thursday.

"We kind of took a hiatus. We'll pick up our relationship after tomorrow."

Berhalter has led the United States back to the World Cup after the disappointment of missing out on qualification for Russia 2018, where England excelled.

Southgate had taken charge of the Three Lions not long after their own darkest hour, a Euro 2016 defeat to Iceland.

"When he first took over, it was very similar to the position I first took over, trying to reshape the identity of the team, refocus, work with a younger group of players. In that case, it's very similar," Berhalter added.

Yet there is a difference between the situations the two men find themselves in, with the USMNT coach noting the reaction to a testing Nations League campaign for England.

"Following some of the things the last months, the pressure in the English media – or in England, in general – is tremendous, and that's different," Berhalter said.

"These guys [the media] give me a hard time every once in a while, but I don't think it's of the magnitude that Gareth gets it.

"We all know this is a results-orientated business and we're all accountable for the results we get on the field, but he's done a great job.

"You've heard me say this for the last year and a half: his record in major tournaments has been outstanding, and there's no denying that – fourth-placed finish in 2018, second-placed finish at the Euros.

"He's done a great job with this team, and they got off to a great start. They're a formidable opponent. It's going to be a difficult game for us."