I don’t know much about football but I like Gareth Southgate.
I remember watching him miss the penalty that knocked England out of Euro ’96. The next time I ever really remember him coming to my attention was in the last World Cup, when it seemed like we may actually have a chance. I liked his waistcoats. I also liked him. He came across as a decent man, a decent manager, someone with principles and dignity. Then I don’t think he came to my attention at all until Euro 2020 (obviously in 2021 because Pandemic blah blah blah).
I can’t comment on his tactics (although for all the arm chair critics he has got to the semi finals with a clean sheet) but I know that whilst people has questioned his team selection he’s quietly got on with it, sticking to his guns and going with what he feels is right.
He isn’t a manager with a glittering past and lots of past trophies to his name, but he seems to have quietly worked with his squad over the years to develop a group of players who actually seem to work well as a team. There doesn’t seem to be the normal news stories of star players throwing a paddy because they aren’t being treated right or anything like that, generally it seems like a pretty contented team.
When there was debate about the team taking the knee and whether this was too political, Southgate stood by his team’s decision. He’s treated them like adults and they in turn seem to respect him for it.
When asked about the Coca Cola / beer bottles that Ronalado moved in a press conference, Southgate merely suggested that the money the sponsorship from these companies bought to the game, particulary at junior levels, makes a difference.
He isn’t here for the drama it seems, he’s focused on the job in hand, more than that he seems to look at the wider picture. Things which might not benefit him but make sense for the game are, in his view, fair and a therefore a good thing. His interviews aren’t dramatic or about him, he’s balanced and to be honest he always seems to be thinking about the bigger picture when he talks.
So I don’t know much about football but in terms of how he presents himself and leads his team I like Southgate. He’s like a PT who doesn’t try and create waves with extreme advice, workouts or diets but simply teaches their clients the things they need to know to get steady results. He is hope for those who quietly and confidently get on with their jobs with integrity, that they can do well, even if they aren’t as headline grabbing as some of their peers.