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Gareth Southgate Could Take A Leaf Out Of Ralph Hasenhuttl's Book !
Monday, 16th Nov 2020 10:25

When Gareth Southgate took over as manager of the England side 4 years ago, it looked a breath of fresh air but somewhere along the line he lost the way, perhaps he should look to the way that Ralph Hasenhuttl has build his Southampton squad as a blueprint if he is to stay as England manager.

When he was appointed as England manager back in 2016 as a temporary replacement for the disgraced Sam Allardyce, it looked like a breath of fresh air in the England camp, the FA had spent two decades blundering through appointments ranging from Terry Venables who created a clique where you seemed to have to be a member of his West End nightclub Scribes to be picked for an England squad, through a succession of managers who ranged from a little weird in Glenn Hoddle, a little naïve in Kevin Keegan, a couple of foreign coaches and then the journeyman years with the likes of Steve McClaren, Roy Hodgson and the aforementioned Allardyce.

When Southgate was appointed and promoted from the U23 set up it looked a breath of fresh air, he stated that gone where the days of players being picked just because they played for the big clubs, now it would be done on merit and an England cap had to be earned not given!

Initially all looked good, qualification and a decent showing in the 2018 World Cup where we reached the semi final boded well for the future, but suddenly something changed,

Southgate started to forget about what he had said previously, suddenly players were coming into his squad on an almost rotational basis, prior to the game against Belgium, the England manager had picked 86 players in his squads, an astonishing number, stranger still is that 13 of those players got no further than sitting on the bench.

Most of those players seem to have come from outside of the big six, only Manchester United's Aaron Wan Bisakka & Arsenal's Keiran Gibbs playing for one of the big club's, but Bisakka was typical of the way that Southgate is seemingly now thinking.

In May 2019 whilst still a Palace player he received his first call up to the England U23 side, playing just once in the tournament, the following month he signed for Manchester United and hey presto he is named in the England squad in August 2019 having barely played a game for United at that stage, indeed he had only played 42 times for Palace before leaving.

Suddenly the die was set for Southgate, he seemed now to be looking first at the name of the club a promising youngster played for and secondly their performance record..

Hence players like Jack Grealish, our own James Ward Prowse or Danny Ings are overlooked for the likes of Mason Mount, Ruben Loftus Cheek, Reece James, Ashley Maitland Niles, Callum Hudson Odoi, Bukayo Sako, Mason Greenwood, Phil Foden, Tammy Abraham get into squads whilst barely playing for their parent clubs and are handed caps seemingly just for turning up. Likewise Jude Bellingham for a high profile move to Germany.

But the most startling statistic is that since taking over, 17 member so Southgate's England squads have been been headline news and only Marcus Rashford ironically Southgate's most capped player can say it's for a good record.

Perhaps Harry McGuire can say he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the rest made the headlines due to an arrogance that makes them feel that they are above the normal moral's of society and they have no respect for anyone, MP's have been slated for flouting lockdown rules, but they are neck and neck with footballers in that respect.

Take the recent case of Phil Foden & Mason Greenwood, both had made their England debuts only days earlier, you would think that they would be keen to make a good impression on Gareth Southgate & cement their place in his future plans, but no, they preferred to flaunt not just Southgate's rules but the strict rules in place to allow International football to be played during lockdown.

Luckily they were caught and prevented from going down to breakfast, if they had then the fixture against Denmark could have been called off , just because they wanted to be flash and take two girls back to their rooms.

They were sent home, but they had to go home anyway, they couldn't stay with the squad due to the quarantine regulations surrounding the England party.

This was a chance for Gareth Southgate to crack down and show his squad that an England cap was earned, at this stage he should have taken disciplinary action, but aside from a telling off there was nothing. Indeed Foden is already back in the squad.

Southgate should have banned them from being selected until March at least, put the Country and its reputation before pandering to the Big Six, have no doubt if that was James Ward Prowse or Danny Ings involved this would have happened.

Gareth Southgate could learn a lot from Ralph Hasenhuttl, the Austrian is a man who has a plan and knows how he will carry it out, it is all about team spirit and he allows nothing to upset the balance of that.

A year ago Saints were in turmoil, but Hasenhuttl knew where his squad was going wrong, he had already started to weed out the bad eggs, bad influences were loaned out and those youngsters who had come under the spell of that player and thought that they too could swan around like a superstar found themselves in the cold.

Ralph doesn't talk individually about them, he talks in the context of the squad and how some players are not yet professional enough for him.

That is in direct contrast to Gareth Southgate who has seemingly lost team spirit and now has a collection of individuals, at the top you have those who think they are untouchable and at the bottom those that wonder why they turn up for an England squad when picked as despite performing season in season out for their clubs they are overlooked for those that play for the big six, in fact I will change that, those that are in the squads of the Big Six.

This has happened because Southgate is not brave or strong enough to face the England squads demons, he is too scared to incur the wrath of the Big Clubs, he will pander to them and their players and hope that it turns out all right.

That is not Hasenhuttl's way, he will address a problem and let it be known it will not be tolerated, he is not afraid to suffer in the short term in order to achieve long term goals.

Unlike Southgate he seems to realise that if you indulge a 20 year old multi millionaire p***k now, then he will become a 25 year old multi millionaire p***k and not a mature footballer achieving the standards his talent deserves.

Sadly England have too many 25 year old p***ks in the squad at the moment and this makes the 20 years olds think this is the way forward.

Of course there are some good men in there, but not enough and that is down to self discipline that comes from within.

So I fear for England's future unless Gareth Southgate draws a line in the sand and makes it quite clear that anyone who crosses it will be severely dealt with, I am not confident that will happen, Foden's reinstatement to the squad after a misdemeanour that almost resulted in an England game being postponed was brushed under the carpet, I can't think of too much worse before Southgate will act.

Saints revival has been based on Ralph Hasenhuttl not tolerating poor off the field behaviour, he demands standards from his players, indeed this has been the Saints way for some time now, the Black Box system looks not just what a player does on the field but what he does off it, one or two have slipped through the net of late at St Mary's, but the Austrian manager if getting us back there.

Photo: Action Images

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felly1 added 13:08 - Nov 16
England are flat track bullies and at 50 years old I've seen time and time again they get exposed by high quality teams. We've tried all sorts of managers, formations etc. Nothing ever changes. We were crap in the late 70s when I was a hopeful naive little kid and we've been crap ever since. The last world Cup was a classic case of flattering to deceive.

halftimeorange added 13:25 - Nov 16
Although I agree with everything you've said, you've made an excellent case for sacking Southgate and putting Ralph in his place! Is that wise?

IanRC added 15:47 - Nov 16
The England job appointment unfortunately, like most of the organisations managing football both internationally and in the UK, borders on being deeply corrupt. As you say Nick, playing for a ‘big club’ appears to be a licence for behaving badly and the authorities just sit on their hands.

d_ember added 16:22 - Nov 16
I am pretty sure the big clubs could not give a toot if their players are picked for and play for their respective international side. They are already, and have done for years, that their star players play too many games. So not sure that argumwnt holds too much water.

However, I was watching last night and felt that Southgate has tied himself to a system, one that the top sides will always exploit. Belgium were not better than us, we arguably created the better chances, but as we know good sides score goals and keep clean sheets. Whe we have played the friendlies more often than not a few debutees come in, and it is refreshing to see their passion and desire. Pickford is coming under fire today, but I am not sure he has made a mistake in an England shirt or their is anyone significantly better. Mings played well, the other two CB's were pretty much all that was left with some experience required against a top side.

The midfield was awful - two full-back who are not wing backs but full backs that get forward, total lack of creativity or energy from the centre and a front line who all play the same way wanting ball to feet. At times they played some great little passes and created space but never finished the chances.

I also believe the FA are using Southgate as a mediator where football has sullied itself again, he has to be parent, politician and all things else - he needs to concentrate of the football and the FA need to allow him to do this and those around him need to stop blowing smoke up his arse and tell him he has lost his way and remind him what made England into a good side again.

A1079 added 22:03 - Nov 16
The history of managers and coaches that have managed England have been littered with disappointment and a sense of failure. We have tried all sorts of combinations - established English managers, foreign managers, now relatively young new English manager. Whatever their reputation before they took on the poisoned chalice that long ago became the England national team all too often that reputation has been ripped to shreds by just about every conceivable combination of character assassination by the English media, players with large egos, managers of clubs who refuse to help and support, a baying public and an organisation that is slow to change that it is often easier to turn an oil tanker on a sixpence.

I don't believe Southgate has become worse but he has succumbed to the same old problems. Like a politician that enters it with good intention over time they become beaten by the pressure and the system, then they lose confidence, self belief, the ability to manage because the fear of getting it wrong is a barrier to them getting it right.

Southgate took over at a time when the English public had effectively given up on the England national team or ever believing it could succeed and this after the so called golden generation which was riddled with huge egos and under achievement. In a way Southgate was a breath of fresh air. He could not really do any wrong at the start because he took over at a very low base. So when he got us to a tournament it was more than we expected and though he took us to a semi final that flattered to deceive. We were better than we expected but not as good as we claimed to be.

Southgate seems a decent enough and honourable man. Management of people is not easy especially when you are managing a large group of men which for the most part you have no influence or real authority over. Players that don't behave, players that drop out at the slightest sign of a supposed twinge because they don't fancy it, pressure from the press and fans to play players that are their current favourite. It is the same old cycle. Southgate will soon go and then we move onto the next one, but does any of us seriously expect it to ever be better because so many that play for England don't do it for the love, pride or passion for the flag or the nation but usually because they feel obliged or see it as a stepping stone for their career or a last hoorah for some that are coming towards the end of it.

I was 5 years old when we won the world cup. I honestly don't believe it will happen again in my lifetime unless there is a dramatic change in all the things I have mentioned above. In this country it is now all about the Premier League and not much else. The PL does not help smaller grass roots football and neither does it help our national team.

MRHALL93 added 11:56 - Nov 17
My main issue with Southgate is that I don't see a style or brand of football he tries to play. Obviously, it's more difficult for an international to do this as they only have 10 days with a large group of players every couple of months.

However, I feel that if you do have an idea of the type of football you want to play, you can then pick the best players to play that brand of football. For example, if he wants to set up a team that can press high, he should look at clubs who press high and can win the ball back.

It feels as Southgate's brand of football is to sit back and beat teams on the counter-attack. However, with Kane as our main man, is that style of football best for him? I don't think it is. I would argue that if you wanted to pick the best 11 English players in the Premier League 8/11 would probably play for the top 6.

underweststand added 06:58 - Nov 18
Southgate obviously feels he is still " building for the future" and manages to placate the media by giving every promising teenager an England cap and a bit of game time whilst ignoring some of the established English talents in the Prem.
Harry Kane maybe here to stay, but the likes of Kyle Walker are part of the "old guard" he inherited, whilst the remainder are a blend of misfits taken out of club sides which are dominated by foreign talents, and in teams who all play differing formations.

Ralph's newly won " success " may have raised a few eyebrows in the media and at the FA, but I can't see many of the... over-paid, super-egos ...in the current England squad adapting to Ralph's style of play and being fit enough to last 95 minutes each match.

The idea of having an English manager for the national team is long-established in the English psyche, and any future" foreign" manager is bound to be on a slippery slope as soon as he fails to beat the likes of Iceland or Sweden, let alone Belgium.
Ralph has created a unique set-up with Saints and long may it flourish, and I won't rush to watch an England game that doesn't start with a Saints player in it , but can always tune-in for the last 15 minutes ...and see who comes off the bench.

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