England under 21 manager Gareth Southgate
If the national side thought they couldn’t fall any further than the ignominy of their summer exit from Euro 2016, they were sadly mistaken as proven by Sam Allardyce’s dismissal this week. The former Bolton boss’ downfall after just one game has generated a considerable amount of sympathy from some of his peers, but many have also accepted that he has nobody but himself to blame.
Due to his feckless behaviour, the FA are back to square one and forced to make a decision they thought they had made three months ago. The governing body seem intent on appointing another Englishman, with the failure of the cold Italian Fabio Capello still fresh in the minds. The only problem is that the pool of top-class English managers is minute.
Alan Pardew and Eddie Howe are the front-runners which says it all, considering they both began the season tasked with the prime target of achieving 40 points. While the FA mull over the process, Gareth Southgate has been handed the reins for the next four games, a natural elevation from his role as U-21 manager.
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew
The former Middlesbrough manager has operated adequately at underage level, winning the Toulon Cup in 2015, and should acquit himself well in the games against Malta, Slovenia, Scotland and Spain. Make no mistake about it however, he should not be penning any long-term deal.
If the FA are serious about learning from the mistakes from the past, they need to appoint an experienced manager with qualifications protruding from his ears. Southgate has but a relegation and subsequent firing from Middlesbrough on his CV, acquired in 2009, and three years overlooking the kids in the England set-up.
Some would say the English job is an impossible one, and who would disagree? Kevin Keegan, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren, Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson were all vastly more experienced than Southgate when they were handed their bumper contracts by the FA, and one by one they buckled under the scrutiny of a nation.
Fabio Capello - England Manager and General Manager Franco Baldini (R)
It’s hard to believe that Southgate has been a manager for over a decade now, considering he hasn’t been able to land a job in club football for seven years. His three-year stint as Middlesbrough boss threatened to spoil the Riverside faithful's memories of their former captain, as he inherited McClaren’s UEFA Cup finalists and steered them into the second tier.
Following his dismissal, he took an enforced four-year hiatus before being offered the role of England U-21 boss where he signed a three-year contract. A victory in the 2015 Toulon Tournament renewed hope in the fortunes of English football, however minute, before Southgate undid his hard work by guiding the country to the foot of Group B in the 2015 U-21 European Championships.
If the FA want to eradicate the mistakes of the past, they need to look for a authoritative figure with a proven track record, ideally in both domestic and international football. Forget the nationalistic obsession with their being English - given a choice between Slaven Bilic and Gareth Southgate, most would surely choose the former.
England U21 manager Gareth Southgate during the press conference