Football

Southgate cool over job future

Now a favourite for permanent England deal, the caretaker says he's just enjoying himself

Gareth Southgate is embracing rather than fretting about the challenges that come with managing England as the interim boss edges towards a permanent succession.

Reluctant to replace Roy Hodgson in the wake of the Euro 2016 embarrassment, the 46-year-old was parachuted into the hot seat as a newspaper sting brought Sam Allardyce's brief reign to an ignominious end.

Southgate was charged with steadying the ship in the final four matches of a turbulent year, which England will end top of their World Cup qualifying group after Friday's 3-0 win against oldest foes Scotland.

The Three Lions' biggest win in the fixture since May 1975 has boosted the former defender's chances of getting the job permanently, but his reluctance to speak about that possibility continued, with a friendly against Spain still to go.

"I've avoided answering that because I don't think it's necessary," Southgate said, when asked if it was right to assume he wants it full-time.

"You just have to do the job. With respect, I've seen people in this sort of position before talk about how much they want the job and it becomes an irrelevance if you don't prepare the team well.

LOVING IT

"So it's not really my decision, but I have loved doing it and I've seen some signs of progress with how we've played.

"From my point of view, it's been a brilliant experience."

Asked if there was any part of him that fears a job that so many have struggled with, the former Middlesbrough manager replied: "No, is the answer.

"I said earlier in the week that it would be easy to look at the negatives, but to work with top players and to work in big matches is what I want to do. From that side, no."

While Southgate appears a shoo-in for the job, the England Football Association will not start the formal process of finding a permanent manager until after Wednesday morning's (Singapore time) Wembley friendly against Spain.

FA chairman Greg Clarke, technical director Dan Ashworth and chief executive Martin Glenn will be part of the decision-making process, along with League Managers Association chairman Howard Wilkinson.

Southgate does not know what the selection process will look like, nor does he care as he looks to end his four-match stint with a third win.

"I've tried to avoid any of those conversations really, because my experience in football or in life is do what you're doing as well as you possibly can and then maybe opportunity comes," he said.

"But if you don't fulfil the task that you're asked to do, then it's a non-starter anyway. Let's see."

Southgate is as short as 1-10 for the permanent post with bookmakers -odds that reflect the impressive work done since being leant on in the national team's hour of need.

"There were signs of how we would like to play," he said, of the Scotland win.

STYLE

"I think we have certain attributes in the team that lend themselves to playing in a certain style.

"In the top two-thirds of the pitch, we did that really well.

"I think Raheem (Sterling) interchanging positions was a real problem. Adam (Lallana) and Wayne (Rooney) and Raheem behind Daniel (Sturridge) were a real problem, difficult to pick up.

"I think we've got players who can play from the back and I want to encourage that. At times, that's going to encounter difficulties.

"I think we can do it better... and show better recognition of when are the moments to do that and how to do that." - PA Sport.

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