Make Southgate permanent England boss if they beat Scotland
Southgate should guide Three Lions to World Cup if he triumphs
ENGLAND v SCOTLAND
(Saturday, 3.35am, Singtel TV Ch 109 - Eleven)
The more Gareth Southgate reminisces about England's past, the more he sounds like an integral part of England's future.
With the auld enemies meeting at Wembley on Saturday morning (Singapore time), it's time for the Brits to don the war paint and reel off their best Braveheart quotes.
The Scots are coming and they've got nothing to lose, a potentially fatal mix for a caretaker manager.
A rip-roaring, flag-waving, cliche-chewing Battle of Britain has the potential to make or break Southgate (right).
He's expected to win. He'll be pilloried if he doesn't.
Being a 46-year-old rookie in the job, he has every reason to edge away from the spotlight. Instead, he's spent much of the week talking about Paul Gascoigne's fake fishing rod.
And the more he does that sort of thing, the more he looks like just the kind of coach that England need.
Considering his pivotal role in the Three Lions' last memorable victory over Scotland, Southgate has been sharing stories, particularly the one about Gazza.
At Euro 1996, the upcoming game left the midfielder a fireball of repressed energy. The only pastime that soothed his nerves was fishing.
So the team improvised.
A fake fishing rod was handed to Gascoigne, who then dropped his line into the team bath and sat quietly in the dressing room. What he pulled out of the bath doesn't bear thinking about.
But the mad anecdote says a lot about Gazza, and even more about Southgate as he prepares for the latest England-Scotland battle.
It's been a long time since the Three Lions had such a self-assured presence in the dugout. Perhaps only Terry Venables and Bobby Robson shared a similar understanding and empathy with the players around them.
Southgate is the first former England player to manage the country since Kevin Keegan, and he conducts himself accordingly.
He's understated, self-deprecating and a proud patriot - just like England.
He's also intelligent, forward-thinking, restrained and dignified; managerial qualities that were conspicuous by their absence in the past.
Sam Allardyce swallowed his own bombast and succumbed to the game's greed. Roy Hodgson was a decent man, but part of a dying breed. And Fabio Capello and Sven-Goran Eriksson's foreignness went against them in the end.
But Southgate just "gets" England.
The man sacked at Middlesbrough has overseen two forgettable games against Malta (2-0) Slovenia (0-0), but that's precisely the point.
He's a bit of a nowhere man leading a nowhere team. He's a middle manager running an SME, which allows everyone to alter daft hopes and ambitions.
The same was said of Allardyce. He hadn't won anything of note either, but he came with more baggage than an airport carousel. And England would've gone round in circles.
Southgate's side may do likewise, but his advantage over his predecessors cannot be overstated.
He used to be one of them.
He understands the unique pressures that come with an England jersey, but he isn't in awe of the celebrity culture either.
Allardyce's silly comments about Wayne Rooney being allowed to play wherever he wants undermined both men. Southgate keeps such matters in-house.
Similarly, the thoughtful coach has nimbly navigated the media minefield concerning Jose Mourinho's criticisms of Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw.
He's a smart pro popular with young pros.
At this week's training camp, he screened clips of famous England-Scotland matches, including the classic victory in 1996 that involved Southgate.
No one in the current squad, not even Rooney, comes close to emulating Southgate's achievements as an England footballer.
And they've appreciated his advice; relevant, modern, specific advice about being a lion in winter.
Gary Neville previously offered that option, but he played second fiddle to the old schoolmaster. Hodgson commanded respect, but not genuine admiration.
According to Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford, Southgate is an engaging, motivational speaker. When he talks, they listen.
His England anecdotes entertain, but they also underline his credentials.
Now is the time to write a new chapter as national boss, beginning with Scotland at Wembley.
The Three Lions are no longer shackled with great expectations. No one really anticipates Gazza-like volleys. Just a win will do.
And if Southgate prevails against a limited Scotland side, then he must be granted a chance to lead England to the World Cup.
He may not be the manager everyone wants, but he's certainly the manager that England currently need.
Southgate is the best man for the job. Frankly, he's the only man for the job.
Southgate's priority is to remain top of the grou
The history of the occasion is something I will speak to the players about because I think it’s important they understand what to expect. We also have to have emotional control going into the game, so we’ve got to pitch that at the right level. - Gareth Southgate (above) England at the moment don’t have a manager... so they’re hobbling along as well. Sometimes it’s better to get the wounded animal while it’s limping and this
Interim manager Gareth Southgate is more concerned about making England proud against Scotland than his own future.
Thrust into the hotseat following the ignominious end to Sam Allardyce's brief reign, the former defender's temporary four-match spell is soon coming to an end.
A glamour friendly at home to Spain next week closes out a stint in which Saturday morning's (Singapore time) World Cup qualifier against Scotland is comfortably the highlight.
It is reported Southgate will get the job permanently even if England were humbled by Gordon Strachan's men at Wembley, but talk about his long-term future continues to be on the backburner.
"I have really enjoyed it," he said. "It's a great honour. I've played for my country,
"I've got the chance to manage the best players in the country in an England-Scotland game. Wow. For me, that's incredibly exciting.
"As a coach you want to work with good players. What's clear in my mind for this week is the areas you want to work with from last time.
"That should always be ongoing. That should always be our analysis. So, yes, I've enjoyed it and I intend to embrace this opportunity."
Southgate says it "would be wrong to be distracted by anything else", going as far to say his future is "not important" compared to keeping England at the top of the World Cup qualification group.
"What's important is that the team are top of the qualifying group going into Christmas and that the country is in a good place with that," he said.
"Then there is time for whatever process is going to happen to take place. For me, that is what is right for the organisation, going through the process, talking to who they want to talk to.
"I have not discussed what happens next. I've got meetings in the diary about what happens next with all the age groups through to Christmas and January. I've not thought too much about that either.
"The period up to Christmas is a little quieter, which gives people time to do the planning for next year."
Southgate, who called Aaron Cresswell and Jordan Pickford into his squad on Monday as replacements for Danny Drinkwater and Fraser Forster, remains the overriding favourite for a job that has its complexities but is not impossible.
Whether Gordon Strachan, a former colleague from his time in broadcasting, remains managing his country for much longer is another issue given Scotland's poor start to qualification.
Southgate said: "That's the nature isn't it?
"For all of us as coaches, when results are that way.
"I don't know the remit for Gordon. It certainly seemed as if results at the beginning were very good and the players enjoyed playing for him.
"I've got enough to think about without worrying about that as well." - PA Sport.