England’s interim coach Gareth Southgate is to be offered the job on a permanent basis after the friendly international against Spain, according to reports.
The former Aston Villa manager, who stepped up from the England Under-21 post following Sam Allardyce’s departure last month, has impressed during his three-match stint as caretaker and is regarded by the Football Association as a safe pair of hands.
Southgate will be offered a £1.5 million-a-year contract that last until 2020, according to the Telegraph and The Mirror.
The 46-year-old will take charge of his fourth and final game of his caretaker spell when Spain visit Wembley on Tuesday night, with the team having won two and drawing one in his previous matches at the helm. Performances have been generally underwhelming but Southgate is thought to have handled his duties well and following England’s embarrassing Euro 2016 exit to Iceland, the bar was set relatively low for performances on the pitch.
As he prepared for Tuesday’s prestige friendly international against Spain, Southgate provided a glimpse of the style of play he would like his players to adopt. The pressing game, much favoured in the Premier League by the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, is one he is keen to utilise at international level.
“Our pressing has to be spot on because if you don’t get that right against Spain they can carve you apart. Our work with and without the ball has to be immaculate and that’s going to be a great challenge for us.
“We can’t be the same as Spain because their players have been brought up in a different way. But maybe we have more power, more pace, more strength. At the moment we have several top teams [in the Premier League] playing in a certain way: a high-pressing, possession-based game.
“I don’t remember seeing many good teams over the years that weren’t very good at pressing, whether that was Holland going back to the 1970s or Milan going back to their successful teams. That is a fundamental core of what we need to do to be successful.”
Southgate is also keen for the players to express themselves, singling out Manchester City defender John Stones, a ball-playing defender but one, as he showed in the 3-0 victory over Scotland, prone to the occasional defensive lapse.
“I remember playing Germany in Euro 96,” Southgate said. “Everyone was talking about Matthias Sammer and asking: ‘Where’s our Sammer?’ It didn’t prove to be me, unfortunately. We had a dabble with Rio [Ferdinand] – did we allow Rio to be quite as good as he might have been, or did we inhibit his progress at times? – and John Stones is that type of defender: a No6 instead of a No5, to use the old fashioned term.
“In my mind we have to encourage those players to play. Otherwise we’ll keep watching the [Gerard] Piqués and saying: ‘Why can’t we get those players in?’ If we don’t allow our players to express themselves we’ll never progress to be a top team.”
Encouragingly for long suffering England fans, Southgate said he was prepared to suffer short-term setbacks if it benefited the national team in the long run.
He said: “What’s the plan? Go selfish, shut up shop and try to eke out a 1-0 win, or do we say ‘no lads, let’s play with belief and go with what we think is the right way to play’?
“It would have been easy to say [of Scotland]: ‘OK, we have to win this match, we’ll go solid, soak up pressure, hit teams on the break and play all our experienced players.’ Or do we try to build from the back, play with some risks and involve some younger players who we think are the future?
“My view is you manage every game like you’re going to be there for ever and make decisions for the long term. That’s why I admire Mauricio Pochettino and the way he puts Harry Winks into the north London derby. If that doesn’t work for us, fine, but we have to think about the long term. We’ll get some of those things wrong but we’ll get a lot right, too.”