Gareth Southgate expects England to be ‘competitive for years to come’

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  • Gareth Southgate
    English association football player and manager
  • Sam Allardyce
    Sam Allardyce
    Football player and manager (born 1954)

Gareth Southgate is excited for the future with England and expects them to be “competitive for years to come”.

Southgate, who is celebrating five years in charge of the Three Lions, recently signed a two-year contract extension to keep him in the role until December 2024.

His spell so far has been an overwhelming success, having taken over a team in turmoil following two disappointing tournaments and the quickfire sackings of Roy Hodgson and Sam Allardyce.

After making the last four at the 2018 World Cup, the 51-year-old took England to their first major final in 55 years at Euro 2020 before losing on penalties against Italy.

Now with the 2022 World Cup and Euro 2024 to look forward to, he is targeting silverware.

“I remember standing here five years ago, when the opportunity first came and talking about what we would like to do with the team and ideas about how we’d like to work,” he said in an interview with England’s YouTube page.

“The last five years have been a fantastic challenge, we have created some great memories for England fans. We are hugely excited about what we are doing and what we have done. It was important to get qualified so that was all out of the way and there was never a suggestion our focus was somewhere else.

“In the end that is the dream. We feel we can continue to grow. England should be competitive for years to come.”

Southgate has already delivered plenty of memories, with victories over Germany and Denmark at Wembley this summer the highlights.

“This period since we qualified is the first time we have had chance to sit and remember those things,” he added.

“To take a country to its first final in 55 years, for everybody involved, all of the staff, all of the players and all of the fans, some of those memories this summer will live with me forever.

“In Russia we brought a connection back with the fans. This year was unique because we had all been locked away and everything we have lived through. We have got some generations of fan who always think it’s been this way. Let me tell you it hasn’t.”

Few would have backed Southgate to succeed, despite a strong showing in his role as Under-21s manager.

He inherited a team that had recently lost to Iceland in Euro 2016 and seen Allardyce sacked after just one game in charge.

Southgate used his considerable man-management and people skills to change the environment within the squad, phasing out older players, and setting the Three Lions up for a possible golden period.

SOCCER England
(PA Graphics)

He added: “Confidence was low. It wasn’t a group that was disunited but it was low on confidence because of the two past tournaments and two changes of manager in a couple of months.

“We needed to stabilise things to begin with and qualify for a World Cup. That was a priority.

“But what we knew is that there was a generation of younger players coming through to support the guys that were already there, that could provide real competition for places, with some good experiences of winning at junior level, technically really good players that could play in a slightly different way to traditional England teams of the past.

“You have to have continuity, you need a clear sense of direction for everybody that works at St George’s and at the FA. I think it is credit to everybody that they have put football more at the forefront of their thinking and there has been a plan.”

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