Football

Southgate safe even if England fail in World Cup

England manager Gareth Southgate has been told his job is safe even if his side lose all their group matches at next year's World Cup in Russia.

Southgate took the reins on a permanent basis 12 months ago on a four-year contract and oversaw a successful qualification for the 2018 showpiece event, where England will face Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in the group stage.

English Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn said he would retain faith that England have the right man at the helm - "for the next few tournaments" - regardless of results in Russia.

"Gareth has a long-term contract. We've got a long-term plan. You've seen some of the fruits of it," Glenn was quoted in the English press yesterday.

"Long-term plans are hard to defend when the short-term results go against you.

"He's not looking at Russia as a free pass. The World Cup's a really important staging post for our development."

England, who are 15th in the Fifa world rankings, failed to qualify for the knockout stages in Brazil in 2014.

"We go out there wanting to win it, but also being realistic," said Glenn.

"No one wants to have a bad World Cup, but we're confident that he's the right guy to take us through for the next few tournaments."

AGE-GROUP SUCCESSES

England's future hopes have been buoyed by recent age-group successes, including Under-17 and U-20 World Cup victories, and Glenn believes showing long-term vision is the way forward.

"We're going to do it in a way that's sustainable," he said.

"So we're going to make sure that we're picking the kind of players who can do their best in Russia and continue to kick on in 2020 and 2022.

"What we're doing is making sure that players who have made it through to the first team by 21, 22, have had lots and lots of tournament experience. So those U-17 and U-20 winners will be coming through.

"We know that worked for the Germans and the Spaniards, so we're just repeating things they've done with our own emphasis on it." - AFP

Football