Southgate: England need to challenge for major honours consistently
Gareth Southgate has marked the signature of his new contract by stressing it is crucial England’s success in their last two major tournaments is not a flash in the pan and they continue to challenge at competitions for years to come.
On Monday morning it was confirmed England men’s senior team manager Southgate and his assistant Steve Holland had signed contract extensions until the end of December 2024.
This would take the pair through not only next winter’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar but also the UEFA European Championships in 2024.
Southgate stated no decision had been made yet over whether this would be his last contract in charge of the England senior team but the 51-year-old’s desire to succeed was clear to see during his press conference today.
The former defender guided England to a FIFA World Cup semi-final in 2018, a third-place finish in the UEFA Nations League and then became the first Three Lions’ men’s team boss in 55 years to reach a major final at this summer’s EUROs.
But Southgate is not resting on his laurels, stating it is time for England to follow some of Europe’s other major nations in regularly reaching major finals and hopefully going on to win a first tournament since the World Cup in 1966.
Southgate said: “I think what you hope – and this goes back to what happened when St. George’s Park was built – you want sustained success.
“When you look at top nations who have won over years and years, like Germany, Italy and France, they have had the odd fallow period but generally they have always been contending for major tournaments and we have got to try to be in that sort of situation.
“Although yes some of our players will be peaking [in the coming years] we have to make sure the team constantly evolves and is always competitive and we don’t sit and think we just have one generation of players who can get to the point we have with this team.
“Of course we are now in a group of teams who can generally challenge and that probably wasn’t the case six or seven years ago. We always went with hope but we didn’t have evidence of results. Now I think we are starting to get evidence of results over a period of time, so you can be genuinely positive rather than just travelling where expectation and hope is higher than the actual level.
“I think that is the challenge for us now. We know expectation is higher but that is good because the team are better than we were three years ago and we have to keep continuing that improvement.”
Southgate was joined in today’s press conference by the FA’s CEO Mark Bullingham and he confirmed the organisation had indicated a desire to extend Southgate’s contract before EURO 2020.
There had been reports regarding a potential new contract over the summer but Southgate continually stressed his desire to first get through the EUROs and then qualify for next year’s FIFA World Cup before discussing his future publicly – although today he highlighted how much that support had meant to him and Holland at the time.
Southgate said: “I would just like to say how excited we are. The last five years have been an incredible experience and we are really pleased with the progress of the team and we feel there is still room for that team to develop and improve.
“I think everyone has seen what is possible with this existing squad and some of the younger players who are coming through our age group teams as well.
“We are also really grateful for the support of the FA, Mark and John. That meant a lot to us before the start of the tournament, where we felt that support and backing. We knew what we wanted to do over the last few months but we felt it was important to be qualified for the World Cup so there was no question that our focus was anywhere else.
“We are really looking forward to the next few years and we hope that we can create some more memories like we have over the last few years and we are very much looking forward to leading the team into Qatar next winter.”
— England (@England) November 22, 2021
The press conference at Wembley Stadium had begun with a three-and-a-half minute statement from Bullingham, which you can read in full below.
He said: “I’m delighted to be able to confirm that we have signed an agreement with Gareth and Steve through to the end of 2024. [Technical director] John McDermott and I, with the full backing of the FA board, believe Gareth and Steve are the best team for this job so we want to extend their time with us.
“Doing that sends a clear message to our players and the support team that we have a plan, a stable management team and we can build for success.
“They have done a fantastic job with many great moments over the last five years, during the World Cup in Russia, the Nations League and the home EUROs.
“By extending their contracts we are hoping for many more special moments and the best chance to fulfil our ambition of winning a major international tournament. That is one of the most difficult achievements in sport so to maximise our chances, we want the best leadership team to prepare and guide our players.
“We first spoke to them before the EUROs to make it clear they had our full support and we would like to, at the appropriate time, get into renegotiations.
“We have engaged in a regular dialogue since the tournament and waited for a period with enough time to reflect and talk in detail. Once we did we were very well aligned on everything and it was a really straight forward discussion.
— England (@England) November 22, 2021
“Gareth and Steve have built a really strong culture with the players and the support team, which in our view has enabled us to perform so well. They have really strong connections with this young group of players and are best placed to take them forwards.
“Their record shows they are the most successful England management team in half a century. In the 50 years after the 1966 World Cup victory we won six knockout games. In the last two tournaments alone we have won five.
“Gareth and Steve have led us to a first men’s final in 55 years and our first ever men’s EURO final. They have also performed really well in qualifying, scoring more goals in the last two campaigns than any other European nation and this year in particular saw a number of records fall for the England men’s team, with the most victories, goals and clean sheets in our history.
“Of course the success comes with revised expectations across the country. We used to celebrate qualifying for major tournaments. Now not only do we expect to qualify but to reach the latter stages and that shift is due to the progress Gareth and Steve have led.
“I understand people will ask how we can afford this given the final loses of the FA and whilst I am not going to go into details on the contract, I will say that it is a performance-related contract and any rises or increases and bonuses are self-funded by either increases in commercial revenue or tournament prize money. Both Gareth and Steve understand that and wanted it that way. They genuinely care about the organisation.
“So we believe this is a really positive day for English football, with the extension of a partnership which has delivered so well for us as a country and we are absolutely delighted that Gareth and Steve have chosen to continue and we look forward to the future together.”
Southgate and Bullingham press conference in full
Gareth Southgate and the FA's CEO Mark Bullingham discuss the England manager and his assistant Steve Holland's contract extensions