After his ultimately disappointing spell at the Middlesbrough helm, Gareth Southgate is hard at work rebuilding his reputation in the football management business with England’s Under-21 team.
A 4-2 play-off victory over Croatia booked the Young Lions a spot at the 2015 European U21 Championships and simultaneously enabled the 44-year-old to creep onto the periphery of the betting to replace Roy Hodgson in charge of the senior side.
The Croydon Commandant’s contract is due to expire after France 2016 and, unless England’s performance at the tournament is a significant improvement on their dismal World Cup showing, it almost certainly won’t be renewed.
But the absolute dearth of viable heirs to his throne is epitomised by the fact that formerly disgraced Three Lions gaffer Glenn Hoddle can be backed at 8/1 to be anointed once again.
Using this as a benchmark, it’s certainly worth having a quid or two on Southgate getting the gig at 100/1.
Reports have surfaced in the Mirror that the Watford native is winning friends at the FA with the cosmopolitan way he’s got the U21 team playing, all high-pressing and ball retention. Ooh, la la.
There’s certainly a case for the man who oversaw Boro’s 2009 Premier League relegation to be handed the Three Lions hot seat next.
Firstly, having worked with the next generation of players, he knows all about the games of Will Hughes, Luke Shaw and other such future stars.
Having savoured a degree of success in the junior ranks, these players are sure to respect him if elevated to full international status under Southgate’s guidance.
With 57 caps to his name, the former centre-half is well-acquainted with the mental rigours of being under the media microscope of playing for the England side.
Hodgson, Fabio Capello and Sven-Goran Eriksson didn’t have this much international experience between them prior to being handed the Three Lions reigns.
What’s more, the Crystal Palace academy graduate’s infamous Euro 1996 semi-final penalty miss saw him cop as much flack as anyone associated with the England team in living memory, so he’ll be prepared for all the chastisement the press will have in store for him.