The FA need a Gareth Southgate succession plan - but options are short in search for next England manager

The FA need a Gareth Southgate succession plan - but options are short in search for next England manager

Monday’s pulsating draw with Germany eased the immediate pressure on Gareth Southgate but the England manager’s long-term future was always going to be determined by his side’s progress at this winter’s World Cup.

Southgate has acknowledged that his contract to November 2024 will not protect him from the sack if England flop in Qatar, while there is always the possibility the 52-year-old could walk if the tournament does not go to plan.

Southgate’s relationship with England supporters has been strained during this dismal Nations League campaign and he has repeatedly said he will not outstay his welcome in the job.

Plainly, the FA urgently need a succession plan, but there is no standout candidate for the job.

Graham Potter and Eddie Howe — both of whom are admired by the FA and arguably coaches who could get England playing the football which Southgate’s detractors believe is beyond him — are now engaged in long-term projects at Chelsea and Newcastle, respectively, and appear out of reach.

Scott Parker is out of work but still relatively inexperienced and so, too, is Steve Cooper, who is having his first taste of the top flight with Nottingham Forest.

The FA are also keeping tabs on two of England’s most celebrated modern midfielders, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, currently in charge of Everton and Aston Villa respectively.

Neither has Southgate’s experience within the FA set-up but, like him, both have an impressive record of representing their country and an existing connection with the governing body and supporters.

Calling on a manager with history with England is usually helpful but expectations have been dramatically raised since Southgate took the job in 2016, and the country will need an elite coach to continue his fine work.

Neither Gerrard nor Lampard currently qualifies, but Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Tuchel and Marcelo Bielsa are all looking for a job, know English football and have existing relationships with key members of the current squad.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Realistically, the FA are unlikely to risk appointing maverick former Leeds head coach Bielsa but his development of Kalvin Phillips, one of Southgate’s most trusted players, and the way he has influenced the likes of Pep Guardiola and Pochettino has had a profound impact on the make-up of this England squad.

As for Pochettino, who was at Wembley on Monday night, increasing the speculation about his possible interest in the role, there was a period when few coaches were as influential to the England team as the Argentine, who helped a host of players from his Southampton and Tottenham sides to caps.

His legacy is still obvious today in Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and James Ward-Prowse, who were all included in the latest squad.

Pochettino, Tuchel and Bielsa may not be English but they have all done a huge service to this England team.

More recently, Tuchel similarly improved English players as Chelsea head coach, developing Mason Mount, Reece James and Ben Chilwell, although the German also allowed Marc Guehi, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham, who are all in contention to make Southgate’s squad for Qatar, to leave the club on his watch.

Pochettino, Tuchel and Bielsa may not be English but they have all, indirectly, done a huge service to this England team already, which should count in their favour if the FA are faced with finding a Southgate successor this winter.