Gareth Southgate is considering his future and could resign as England manager after the World Cup regardless of how the team performs, according to a report.
The Three Lions coach has been a man under pressure in recent months, with England’s form below expectations. And while Monday’s 3-3 draw with Germany saw the nation put in a much-improved performance, it still leaves them winless in six games.
That represents their worst run of form before a major tournament in 22 years – which does not make for good reading.
It’s all a far cry from the feel-good factor around England following their recent success. Southgate has guided England to within a penalty shootout of ending their major trophy drought. And they also reached the semi-finals of the previous World Cup, before Croatia ended their dream.
Bouncing back from their Euro 2020 final disappointment, they have qualified for the next World Cup with ease. That includes a memorable record 10-0 away win over San Marino.
However, it’s not gone according to plan in recent games following a poor Nations League campaign. That has seen England beaten twice by Hungary and relegated to Pool B of the competition. Two draws against Germany have failed to mask the problems.
Indeed, much of the criticism aimed at Southgate has been grown in recent weeks. To that end, his loyalty to Harry Maguire has been questioned by one confused pundit.
He was at fault for Germany’s opener, hacking down Jamal Musiala in the area to concede a penalty.
And while showing much improvement going forwards, Southgate still has plenty of team selections to ponder ahead of the World Cup.
However, further down the line, there remains growing speculation that Qatar 2022 could be Southgate’s swansong with England.
Mauricio Pochettino tipped to replace Gareth Southgate
Now, according to the Daily Telegraph, speculation is growing over his Southgate’s departure and his potential replacement.
They report that the coach will step down after the World Cup, despite the FA not currently considering his dismissal.
Furthermore, the paper claims Mauricio Pochettino was spotted at Wembley on Monday night to take in the match. The former Tottenham manager remains out of work, having left Paris Saint-Germain at the end of last season.
And while reports suggest he may head back to Spurs, that currently looks unlikely despite ongoing specualtion surrounding Antonio Conte.
Per the Telegraph, Pochettino is emerging as a leading candidate to succeed him. The Argentine was seen in the crowd on Monday, though was not there by invitation of the FA. Intend, the paper also stress he did not attend with the intention of making any sort of play on Southgate’s job.
That said, Pochettino was there alongside his long-term assistant Jesus Perez, with the two men in deep discussions.
Were Southgate to move on, there is little doubting that Pochettino would be seen as a dream replacement by many.
The FA would want a quick and high-calibre replacement. To that end, under-fire Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers is also among the candidates.
However, Pochettino comes with a big reputation and a great man-manager.
He led Tottenham to the Champions League final during his time in charge. He also enjoyed a hugely-successful relationship with Three Lions skipper Harry Kane. Kane, for one, would undoubtedly welcome Pochettino’s potential appointment by the FA.
Southgate discusses his future
Speaking prior to the Germany game, Southgate is well aware of the growing pressure on his shoulders.
And he knows he’s far from fireproof when it comes to potentially losing his job.
“I am not foolish,” Southgate said. “My sole focus at the moment is to get the team right [for Monday]. Then we are focusing on a good performance and a good result. I know ultimately judgement will come by what happens at that World Cup.
“Contracts are irrelevant in football because managers can have three, four, five‑year contracts and you accept that, if results are not good enough, it is time to go your separate ways.
“Why would I be any different? I am not arrogant enough to think that my contract is going to protect me in any way.
“We understand how the mood changes with the results and [it] has changed. I am realistic about that. I will be judged on what we do in Qatar and I am perfectly happy to be judged in that way.
“History is history and you are judged on the next match and the next tournament.”