Gareth Southgate is the man in possession of the England manager’s job, but he is still classed as the ‘interim’ manager until a full-time successor to Sam Allardyce is appointed. Of course, having ruled himself out of the position before Big Sam was given the role, Southgate may change his tune after being in charge of the senior squad. Moreover, if he does a good job over the next three games, the FA might consider that they have the best man for the job in position already.
Several England players have come out and praised Southgate’s ability and methods, but too much shouldn’t be read into those obligatory statements. The majority of players asked said that Allardyce was a ‘breath of fresh air’ when he was appointed – after all, what else can players be expected to say? A 2-0 Wembley win against Malta on Saturday gave Southgate the start he needed and put three more points on the board, but the bare result shouldn’t paper over the cracks of what was no more than an average performance. Let’s not forget that several of the Maltese players are part-timers, and Scotland put five past them in their earlier qualification game.
The Wayne Rooney conundrum rumbles on too, and Southgate has done little to suggest he is the man to put the questions to bed. Despite saying he is not afraid of making tough calls, the former international defender has also given Rooney plenty of praise and confirmed that he will continue as captain. The current situation may seem hard on Rooney, who has been a fine servant for England over the years, but his inclusion in midfield is starting to become the elephant in the England dressing room. Could dropping Rooney to the bench against Slovenia be the making or breaking of Southgate?
Southgate too Short
So where do the FA go after the debacle that was the reign of Sam Allardyce? We tipped Big Sam at a massive +1600 just days after Roy Hodgson’s resignation, and if Southgate doesn’t get the job there are plenty of big prices out there.
Southgate is rated a best price of +150 with BetVictor, but there are enough question marks to find little value in those odds. He has been working for the FA taking charge of England’s Under-21 side, but he has no recent top-level experience, he effectively ruled himself out of the running when Allardyce was appointed last time round, and the FA may want to look for a higher-rated candidate. He also has three very tough games in his four-game ‘interview’, with Slovenia, Scotland and Spain the opponents. Should he fail to get the results in those games he will almost certainly be out of the running, and none of the matches are a foregone conclusion by any means.
English or Foreign?
Arsene Wenger’s name has been routinely banded about whenever the England manager’s job is vacant, but up to now he has resisted the FA’s overtures. In the aftermath of Sam’s dismissal, Wenger said he remained open to the England position, but not until his contract at Arsenal was up at the end of the season. One would be tempted to back the Frenchman as he ticks all the FA boxes, but in the last few days he has come out and said that he thinks an Englishman should be appointed, which are hardly the words of a man considering the job. The Arsenal boss is +600 with Bet365.
Roberto Mancini is another foreign candidate who has shot to the top of the market, after he was spotted at Wembley Watching the Malta game. However, the FA have insisted he was not on their guest list – as reported in some outlets – and the +600 on offer hardly appeals. The former Manchester City, Inter Milan and Galatasaray manager certainly has plenty of experience, but he was released by Inter in the summer after an unsuccessful second spell with the club, and if the FA risk appointing a foreign boss, one expects it would have to be an outstanding candidate.
The Crystal Palace manager has made no secret of his desire to land the top job, and along with Steve Bruce, Eddie Howe and Glenn Hoddle, he is one of the few Englishmen in the frame. Hoddle has been out of management for a very long time, and although he was one of England’s best ever managers in terms of results, the FA will probably remember the controversy from his first reign. They will avoid any bad publicity like the plague after the Allardyce situation.
Eddie Howe has done a superb job at Bournemouth, but would the FA appoint such a rookie? At a time when they fear their reputation is at it’s lowest, they might be looking for a safer pair of hands. Steve Bruce probably ticks that box after several years of experience, but he was relegated with Hull before leading them back to the Premier League, and is currently tipped to be taking over at Villa in the Championship.
Pardew is a man who divides opinion, and a manager who tends to blow hot and cold. Last season with Palace started off superbly and they were challenging for European places prior to Christmas, but a shocking run in 2016 saw them narrowly avoid relegation. However, his star is on the rise again as a good start to this season sees Palace occupying 8th position.
A Lack of Stand-Out Candidates
The fact that Southgate is hot favourite probably only serves to demonstrate that there are a lack of stand-out options for the FA. Wenger might be their first choice if they can wait until the summer and the Frenchman accepts the role, but Pardew is arguably the best of the English candidates and he’s worth a bet at a massive price.
Alan Pardew to be Next England Manager