Gareth Southgate moves one step closer to being England’s permanent manager
There has been plenty of talk about who The FA will hire to be the next England boss. Alan Pardew seems like the next man up, but Steve Bruce has a claim to that role, while Eddie Howe is the up-and-comer and a handful of foreign managers have been tossed around.
One man who is repeatedly dismissed has an inside track on them all, though. That man is Gareth Southgate, England's interim manager who has a chance to show that he deserves the job on a full-time basis.
Southgate has been promised the job for the remainder of the year, which means three World Cup qualifiers and a high profile friendly. If the Three Lions look phenomenal in those matches, will The FA really look elsewhere?
The Southgate Era started well enough on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Malta. Again, it's Malta, and a two-goal win over the 176th ranked team in the world doesn't have anyone running through the streets yelling “ENGERLAAAAND,” but it was a job done. Southgate sent out an attacking team that dominated possession, rarely gave Malta any chances and just wore on their over-matched visitors. They were always on the front foot, the better team, and the result was never in doubt. All things considered, that's what the Three Lions needed, and it's what they got.
England will be challenged more throughout the rest of the year, with qualifiers against Slovenia and Scotland then a friendly against Spain. After those, any Southgate successes won't be able to be minimized because of the opponent. They could very well be well on their way to qualifying for the World Cup with a nice win over one of Europe's best teams. That's a pretty good case for the full-time gig, and certainly a stronger one than Pardew, Bruce and Howe would have at that point.
Southgate is also a darling at The FA. He's been there for years, working to set up the development system and coaching youth teams. He's well-liked and now he has a leg up on the rest of the field — he has four matches.
Unless a great candidate comes along, and Pardew or even Roberto Mancini aren't great candidates, then Southgate has his chance to win the job outright. Four wins would almost certainly do it, and he already has one of them. Now it's just about getting the other three, but the bar might not even be that high. Three wins and a draw, with some exciting play, might do the trick. The key is that Southgate holds his fate in his own hands. He just needs to rack up some wins, and that's something no other candidate can say.
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