Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe has poured cold water on reports he could be in line to replace Gareth Southgate as England manager after the World Cup finals.
Southgate is feeling the heat as boss of the Three Lions for the first time in his reign. After reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup and the final of Euro 2020, there’s a feeling that his England team have regressed.
Monday’s 3-3 draw with Germany at Wembley capped the end of a horrible Nations League tournament from Southgate. His side were relegated into tier two, and while that counts for little, it was the lack of attacking threat that has concerned fans and pundits alike.
Luke Shaw’s second-half goal against Germany was England’s first from open play for more than 500 minutes. And with the World Cup less than two months away, alarm bells have been ringing.
Defensively England have also been vulnerable, losing 4-0 at home to Hungary at Molineux in June.
There have been calls for Southgate to go and the former Middlesbrough boss is well aware his performance in Qatar will shape his future, despite having two more years on his FA contract.
“I am not foolish,” Southgate said before the draw with Germany. “My sole focus at the moment is to get the team right for tomorrow and then we are focusing on a good performance and a good result. I know ultimately I will be judged on what happens at that World Cup.”
England have a straight-forward group, on paper, at the World Cup. And failure to qualify past Iran, USA and Wales will almost certainly see Southgate relieved of his duties.
‘I love the day-to-day coaching’
A lot more though is expected of the fourth favourites and anything less than a place in the semi-finals could leave Southgate vulnerable to the axe.
One of the names that has been mentioned as a contender to replace 52 year-old, is 44-year-old Howe. In fact thew bookies have Howe as the favourite, but on Friday he cooled the speculation.
Asked about England at his pre-match press conference on Friday morning, Howe said: “Gareth has done an incredible job – I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I never say never. Never say ‘no, it won’t be something I am interested in’.
“But, in the short term, it is not on my radar at all. It is all Newcastle and trying to make this team better.
“I have always said I love the day-to-day coaching, love being with the players on the training ground. International football, you get that taken away for long periods. At this moment in my life that is not something I want to do.”
Howe: We have to stop Mitrovic
Asked about Kieran Trippier getting the nod for England ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Howe, said: “[England right-back] Competition is fierce. Kieran has been excellent, not just this season but last.
“He played a huge part in us staying in the division. Excellent professional to have in the group. He’s a real role model for the younger players.”
Howe also admitted his side will have to stop Newcastle old boy Aleksandar Mitrovic at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Howe added “Mitrovic had an incredible season last year and he’s carried it into this season.
“There are obvious details that our team need to try & stop. Marco Silva has done a very good job with his team, they have a good structure to their team & are playing well.”