As Gareth Southgate reaches his two-year anniversary as the manager of England, the Three Lions’ boss is as popular as ever.
England supporters have become besotted with the 48-year-old after the country’s performance at the World Cup in summer and the feel-good factor carried over in the UEFA Nations League, where England made the final four of the competition by defeating Croatia at Wembley.
We’ve taken at the reasons behind Southgate’s popularity and why it is only going to rise.
The club mentality he has created
During what many called the ‘golden generation’, England lacked coherence and chemistry within their squad. The age-old debate of Frank Lampard vs Steven Gerrard, cliques being formed by players from different clubs, overall, the England squad was far from a harmonious environment. None of that exists under Southgate. During the World Cup, the team had a togetherness that had rarely been seen among supporters. It created a feel-good factor that helped the Three Lions go on to achieve what they did in Russia.
Southgate has a personality that has lured in supporters. Fans feel like they can relate to the manager, possibly due to his former playing days or the fact he wasn’t a high-profile appointment that dominated the headlines. Throughout his time in charge, Southgate has been more than happy to approach sensitive subjects, varying from racism in the game to Brexit and the future of youth football. The way that he has used his position as England manager to become ambassadorial-like figure has endeared Southgate to supporters.
Willingness to create the next generation
Having previously worked within England’s youth set-up, the FA would have been confident about Southgate’s ability to focus on the next generation. During his time in charge, he has done just that and continues to evolve his squad, with one eye on the future. England’s World Cup squad over the summer had a youthful look to it. The likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were given opportunities to show the future is bright for the Three Lions. He’s also handed senior call-ups to promising youngsters Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount among others.
Giving fans a reason to believe
Nobody quite expected England to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup over the summer, but Southgate has installed a new-found belief among both the players and supporters. That same belief has helped England reach the latter stages of the Nations League. Expectations have risen under Southgate, with good reason too as fans start to believe that a major trophy is not too far away.
That brilliant chant
Nobody would have predicted that an Atomic Kitten song would have dominated the World Cup headlines, but it just seemed to work. A good atmosphere is something that has been lacking from the England national team, but Southgate struck a chord with supporters and was often seen orchestrating chants after the full-time whistle.
Becoming a fashion icon
Southgate got things right on the pitch during the World Cup, but also in the dressing room. One of the biggest talking points of the tournament was Southgate’s waistcoat, which very quickly became one of the fashion trends of the summer. So much so, stores up and down the country were selling out of waistcoats following England’s success in Russia.