Gareth Southgate takes charge of his seventh England international when the Three Lions travel to Glasgow to take on Scotland on Saturday.
The 46-year-old was initially only brought in to manage England on a temporary basis after Sam Allardyce was sacked, but it was always the Football Association’s (FA) plan to install him full time.
Former FA CEO Alex Horne told Business Insider that the England national team was Southgate’s destiny.
“I employed Gareth Southgate twice,” Horne told Business Insider at a Cogress Investor Club event in London. “First in 2011 in a developmental role [as the FA’s head of elite development].
“And I appointed Gareth again to manage the Under-21 national team [in 2013]. The end goal was always with the hope that he would succeed Roy Hodgson.”
Horne had an 11-year involvement with the England team but stepped down as CEO in 2015 so he was unable to see his plans through to the end.
“Initially, we thought Roy would stay until 2018 and then have Gareth take over, that was the succession plan,” Horne said.
But Hodgson was sacked two years ahead of schedule as England suffered a humiliating Euro 2016 exit. With poor form and fan support against Hodgson, the decision was taken by Horne’s replacement — Martin Glenn — to shake things up.
“After the European Championships in France, it was the right call to let Roy go,” Horne said.
Sam Allardyce was brought in to replace Hodgson, but his 67-day tenure ended in farce. A Daily Telegraph sting caught him using his position to explore the possibility of earning extra money on the side. He also provided advice on getting around FA transfer rules.
That was two England managers sacked within the space of three months and the FA was suddenly desperate to bring in a steadying force. Step forward Southgate.
After six games in charge, Southgate has a 50% win ratio thanks to three wins, two draws, and one loss. For the Under-21 side, he secured 27 wins, three draws, and three losses from 33 games.
New York Times football correspondent Rory Smith said Southgate needs time.
“Southgate is not the archetype of an England manager,” Smith recently told BBC Radio 5 Live: “And I wonder if Southgate is more modern than anybody we’ve seen in English coaching before.
“He’s analytical, softly-spoken, and players respond to that. It’s what they’re used to at club level… modern management.”
Horne has full confidence in the England manager’s abilities. “Gareth was always brilliant at managing the Under-21 squad, as well as the other youth squads at St George’s Park [a £105 million facility and home to England’s 24 national teams].”
“Its still early days for Gareth,” Horne added. “He’s only had a few [six] games but I really like the way he’s playing and picking players based on form.”
Commenting on one trait of Southgate’s that could be a huge asset for England, Horne said: “He’s brave. Just look at his decision to call-up Jermain Defoe. Defoe scored a great goal in the 2-0 win over Lithuania in March, which fully justified Gareth’s decision.”
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