FA heaps praise on Gareth Southgate but frets over England’s future defence

first_img Read more news England’s Phil Jones says he is wise enough to cope with adversity Share on Pinterest Henderson, Maguire and Young in pole position for England’s World Cup opener Read more Topics World Cup Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. Ashworth’s job is to look even further ahead, with the ultimate aim being that England’s success at younger levels be replicated by the senior team. That, he said, should not be with a foreign manager in place.“Do I want an English coach to manage the English team? Yes. That is my personal view, and not necessarily the view of the FA, but St George’s Park is to help develop [English] players and coaches. We have some good young English coaches [within the FA] such as Steve Cooper, Paul Simpson, Keith Downing, Aidy Boothroyd, who have won things at different levels and the ones working in the game – Lee Johnson, Gary Rowett, Eddie Howe, Sean Dyche – are all talented English coaches.”Ashworth added: “I can’t tell you who would succeed Gareth Southgate but when it does happen let’s hope it is because he has done such a good job that he has been whisked off to Real Madrid.” The FA England Ashworth went on to say he would like another Englishman to succeed Southgate in future years, identifying the Under-21s manager Aidy Boothroyd as one contender, and was confident enough to declare that the current team had a realistic chance of winning the World Cup.However, there was also an admission from Ashworth that the research of English football’s governing body had highlighted a problem with the number of top-level defenders in the system.“At St George’s Park we map out where the talent is and we might say we’ve got quite a few number 10s or quite a few number sevens,” he said. “I have to say our biggest discussion point with the majority of the teams is defenders. Across all the age groups it’s defenders.“When we [the FA] had the Charter for Quality in 1997 we were talking about the fact we didn’t have enough creativity. We had no players who were able to keep the ball, who could beat players. And yet I think we’ve shifted it slightly. We’ve now got lots of exciting players right the way through to Jadon Sancho at Borussia Dortmund.“Where we perhaps haven’t got the depth – maybe not the depth, but the types – is the defenders. Our full‑backs 20 years ago were Stuart Pearce and Gary Neville, and we’ve got a different type of full-back now – more converted wingers.“I worked with a manager some years ago who talked about the duvet being too short. You can cover your toes but you can’t cover your shoulders. I think that’s where we were 20 years ago, in that we had lots of defenders but not enough players who were good enough with the ball.“Maybe we’ve pulled up the duvet and now have lots of players who are good with the ball, but our toes are sticking out.” Share on Messengercenter_img Gareth Southgate Reuse this content World Cup 2018 Share on LinkedIn Ashworth went on to praise Southgate for taking on the job at a desperate time in the history of the national team and putting together a younger side, in a new system, that has helped get the English public back on side.“All managers lead in a slightly different way but you’ll have seen him work as the Under-21s coach and now the senior coach,” Ashworth said. “He’s empathetic, he’s articulate, he has high emotional intelligence and a really good understanding of connecting with the players and getting the best out of the players – and the staff.“Gareth has brought together a way of working for the players and the staff that makes it one big group. And that’s him. That’s how he worked with the Under-21s as well, so he has to take credit. Gareth is the leader. The environment is down to Gareth and he is an exceptional leader.”Until recently, the FA’s executives would have been reluctant to say England can win the World Cup. Now, however, there appears to be a new wave of optimism. “That’s what we’re here for,” Ashworth said. “We’ve turned up to attack the tournament and try to win it. We want to inspire the nation and we want the nation to be proud of our football team.” Share via Email World Cup Share on Facebook Share on WhatsApp Share on Twitter Gareth Southgate will lead England into their first match of the World Cup with his employers at the Football Association praising him as an “exceptional leader” but warning there is a shortage of high-quality defenders coming through the system.As Southgate and his players prepared to fly to Volgograd for the game against Tunisia on Monday, the England manager was acclaimed by Dan Ashworth, the FA’s technical director, for helping to return some positivity to the national team in the wake of Euro 2016, Roy Hodgson’s departure and Sam Allardyce’s brief stint as manager.last_img read more