about becoming England manager, but he has become one of the most successful bosses in the team’s history.
It took the man in the waistcoat to turn the tanker. In a year’s time, England will be at the Qatar 2022 World Cup with serious aspirations of bringing back the trophy. And while there are a number of key figures who have made that prospect realistic, nobody stands out quite like Gareth Southgate, who on Tuesday celebrated a five-year anniversary as manager.
Greg Dyke was a newly appointed chairman of the English Football Association (FA) when he declared in a famous 2013 speech: “English football is a tanker that needs turning.”
He spoke that day of wishing to create an England team that could be successful on the world stage.
“The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022,” Dyke said. Many duly scoffed.
Nine years on, England have ticked one box, with Southgate’s team finishing runners-up to Italy at the delayed Euros; now, a nation expects as his squad bid to match Alf Ramsey’s 1966 heroes.
A questionable choice?
It was not Dyke who selected Southgate after Roy Hodgson’s four-year reign ended and successor Sam Allardyce lasted just one game, an ill-fated choice.
Indeed, as Dyke left his post at FA HQ in the summer of 2016, he questioned the appeal of the England manager’s job, specifically asking “why anybody would want it”.
Southgate was unsure initially too, albeit for a different reason, saying the role “wasn’t something I think I’ve got the experience for”. But his tune soon changed, with Allardyce’s reign ending abruptly after a newspaper investigation within weeks of his appointment and the FA needing a steady hand on the tiller.
Southgate made 426 Premier League appearances in his playing career – more than anyone else with zero appearances off the bench. He was therefore not used to being deployed as a substitute, but on this occasion he accepted the chance to step in as a replacement.