Five years after being rejected for the manager’s job at League One club Sheffield United, Gareth Southgate has touched down in Russia with his England World Cup team.
Southgate, who won 57 caps for England and played at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, has done things with The Three Lions squad differently to his predecessors, ultimately creating not only a squad, but an environment and philosophy to ensure he gets the best out of England’s players.
He has been quoted as saying “We are nothing to do with the past. The past can inform us and help us, but shouldn’t shape us. We have got to be our own team. They have got a chance to make their own history.”
England’s performances in recent years has come under heavy criticism for being disjointed and dull, but whether England are successful this time around or not, nobody can deny that Southgate has tried to win back the hearts and minds of the country.
“I’ve talked before about there being a disconnect between the supporters and the team and I’ve felt that there’s different ways to bridge that,” Southgate said. “The most important is the way you play, and your performances and your results.
“We know we are not the finished article – in fact, we’re a long way from it – but I think people see signs of progress and enjoy watching us and the manner in which we try to play.
“We are seeing a team that is enjoying each other’s company, getting on well, is very proud to represent the nation.
“We ask people to pay a lot of money to watch football. In the end, we want to entertain where we possibly can.
“Ultimately, we know we’ll be judged on results – but we have to focus on the processes.
“If we do all of those things and we play with a smile on our face, enjoy our football, enjoy being in a tournament, then I think we will get results.”