Should I stay or should I go: Southgate has emotional clash over England future

December 12 – As England lick their wounds after falling just short for the third tournament in a row, manager Gareth Southgate is pondering whether to stay on in the role.

Unlike several other national team coaches who have resigned in the wake of World Cup failure, both the English FA and the players want Southgate to remain despite the quarter-final elimination by defending champions France in Qatar.

But he says he is unsure at this stage what to do having “found large parts of the last 18 months difficult”.

Southgate, under contract until December 2024, says he will “review and reflect” before deciding whether to carry on.

“I don’t want to be four, five months down the line thinking I’ve made the wrong call. It’s too important for everybody to get that wrong.”

Southgate, who was appointed in October 2016, led England to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and a first European Championship final in 2021.

He has won six knockout games in major tournaments – the same number as England won in the 48 years before he took charge.

“There are lots of things in my head that are really conflicted at the moment, so what I want to make sure, if it’s the right thing to stay, is that I’ve definitely got the energy to do that,” said Southgate.

“When I’ve been through the past few tournaments, my emotions have been difficult to really think through properly in those following few weeks,

“It took so much energy out of you and you have so much going through your mind.

“I want to make the right decision either way because it has to be the right one to go again, or the right one not to go again – and I don’t think tonight is the time to make a decision like that. Neither are the next few days really.”

Perhaps one of the reasons Southgate might decide to stay is that although his team went through a familiar sense of missed opportunity, this is as good an England squad in terms of depth that there has been for decades, with a balanced blend of youth and experience.

Unlike the last two tournaments, there was a sense that this was the time, the team and the tournament for England to finally lay the ghost of having won no major men’s title for over half a century.

We will never know, of course, whether England would have gone on to lift the trophy had skipper Harry Kane – so often England’s saviour – not missed that decisive penalty.

But somehow this particular elimination felt far more painful than the previous two.  Perhaps because England were superior to France for large swathes of the game.

Or perhaps that Southgate’s team lacked the one crucial ingredient you need to win the World Cup – luck.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1721855661labto1721855661ofdlr1721855661owedi1721855661sni@w1721855661ahsra1721855661w.wer1721855661dna1721855661