Even the most talented screenwriter in Hollywood would have had a tough task to conjure up a more dramatic script than the one the English national team has followed in the past few weeks.
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Around all of that the Three Lions have had two 2018 World Cup qualifiers to focus on and after underwhelming in a 2-0 win at home against Malta, issues arose in Slovenia on Tuesday with Joe Hart the hero as he rescued a point for England.
Following England’s 0-0 draw at Slovenia, a result which keeps them top of UEFA’s Group F and unbeaten in their opening three qualifiers, Southgate brandished the situation he inherited as a “mess” and hopes things will settle down for his next two games in charge against Scotland and Spain next month.
“With the overall objective of qualifying, we have kept the team on track,” Southgate said. “But we have taken over a mess really and had to steady the ship.”
Jumping in to take charge following Allardyce’s dismissal has been far from ideal and having just a few days to work with the players has seen England put in two lackluster displays. However, they have kept two clean sheets and remain firmly in the driving seat to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia. That fact shouldn’t be lost in all of this.
With a turbulent spell now behind England, if Southgate can manage a win at home against Scotland in their next 2018 World Cup qualifier on Nov. 11 then you’d have to think he will take charge of the team on a full time basis until after Russia 2018.
Right now he only has an agreement to coach England through the qualifier against Scotland and the friendly against Spain next month but as the FA continue to do due diligence and look at potential long-term candidates for the England job, Southgate has guided them cautiously and astutely through this mess.
The man who has coached England’s U21 side for the past three years may not be the first-choice of most but he may be the best choice a Three Lions side still reeling from controversy and scrutiny. He knows all of the talented young English players coming through and he’s a man who gets on with his job with minimum fuss and has vast playing and coaching experience in the Premier League and with England.
Southgate is refreshingly honest and at this point England need someone they can rely on to guide the team to the World Cup in 2018. Southgate has all the tools to do that and he should be the man to take charge permanently.
After England’s recent woes at major tournaments, what’s the worst that could happen?