Gareth Southgate has vowed to honor his contract as England managed through the end of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
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After England’s bitterly disappointing loss on penalty kicks in the EURO 2020 final against Italy at Wembley, many questioned Southgate’s tactics and player selections for the final.
Speaking to the press less than 24 hours after that defeat, the Three Lions boss was asked about his future.
The FA had previously said they wanted to extend his contract beyond the end of the 2022 World Cup, when it is currently due to run out.
Here was the response of the man who has led England to a semifinal berth at the 2018 World Cup and a runners up finish at EURO 2020.
“I don’t think now is an appropriate time to be thinking about it. We have to qualify for Qatar. I need time to go away and reflect on Euro 2020. I need a rest,” Southgate said. “It is an amazing experience but to lead your country in these tournaments takes its toll. I said at the time it is great to have that internal support, you greatly value that as a manager.
“I don’t want to commit to anything longer than I should and I don’t want to outstay my welcome so all of those things need consideration. I want to take the team to Qatar, I feel we have made progress over the four years, we have had a fourth, a third and a second-placed finish and that is as good as anyone.”
Are England in good hands?
There’s no doubt Southgate has made huge progress with this group of players over the last five years since he took charge.
But has he taken them as far as he can?
After the debacle of being knocked out by Iceland in the last 16 of EURO 2016, England hit rock bottom.
Southgate then arrived and has rebuilt this team with youth and there has been clear progression between being knocked out of the World Cup in 2018 in the semifinals and losing in the European Championship final (their first major final in 55 years and first-ever EUROs final).
Yet Southgate will likely rue certain player selections, tactical decisions and the penalty takers he selected against Italy in the final, and it felt like the likeable manager was just out-thought by Roberto Mancini and was perhaps over-cautious when it mattered most.
England are on the right path with this talented young team and it is only right that Southgate should lead them at the World Cup in 18 months’ time (if they qualify) and they will be right up there with the favorites to win it all.