In the least surprising piece of news to come out of English Football for a very long time, Gareth Southgate was officially named as the successor to Sam Allardyce (statistically the most successful England manager of all time) on Wednesday, signing a four year deal (with no break clause).
An uninspiring yet safe choice, Southgate pretty much immediately confirmed that Wayne Rooney would keep the captaincy and also confirmed that he wanted his England side to “play exciting football the fans will be proud of”. Both of these things I have great doubts about.
Whilst it cannot be doubted that Wayne Rooney has been a fantastic servant to the national team, I believe there are better options ahead of him now to get a game for England and I find it disappointing Southgate has not tried someone new as the skipper – Joe Hart or Jordan Henderson for example.
The real test will not be getting England to Russia; he will be judged on how we perform when we get there.
So often we have gone for a big name manager and a squad packed full of Champions League regulars, only to be embarrassed, but the next tournament will be different. There’s a batch of genuinely decent players establishing themselves in the national team currently (Kane, Sterling, Stones, Alli etc) and the country will be hoping that Southgate, who was an international centre half himself, can give the unbelievably loyal and passionate national team supporters something to finally cheer about.
It’s a huge job, but not an impossible one.
Good luck, Gareth.