Debbie Hewitt, president of the Football Association, has renewed confidence in Gareth Southgate, coach of the Three Lions national team, despite disappointing results in European Nations League competition.
Last week, the Three Lions suffered a crushing defeat at home to a Hungarian guest, scoring four unanswered goals, sparking debate over whether the England manager should be sacked ahead of the World Cup in Qatar starting next November.
But Hewitt praised Southgate’s role in the team’s brilliance on the pitch and instilling a healthy culture off the pitch in comments released by Britain’s BA today Tuesday.
The 51-year-old former England international led England to the 2020 European Cup final last year, three years after reaching the 2018 World Cup semi-finals in Russia.
“My personal opinion of Gareth, based on facts on the pitch, is that he is the most successful England manager we have seen in 55 years,” Hewitt said.
“What people don’t often see is Gareth in the camps and the culture he created,” the FA president added.
And she continued: “Of course, before Gareth became England manager, there was no pride in wearing a national team shirt. As we saw, there was tough competition between the clubs, there was no consensus between the players.”
“He changed it all in a way that I could not imagine and see in person,” she added.
Hewitt praised Southgate’s “resistance and sense of responsibility”, two qualities I greatly admire: “He never drops his shoulders, he never sighs (…) That’s what we expect from an English manager.”
“It’s a pleasure to work with such a person because his desire to learn (from bad experience) is so wonderful and completely unfamiliar in any environment,” she said, referring to her experience in the business world.
Hewitt added that any discussion of the timing of a decision on Southgate signing a new contract before the World Cup was “nonsense”.
Southgate signed a new contract last November until the end of 2024.
“I don’t think we will discuss (a contract) after the last series of matches,” said the FA chief.
Debbie Hewitt noted that: “The fact that he has a bump doesn’t automatically make us say, ‘Should we sign him?’ before confirming, ‘We trust Gareth for all the reasons I’ve described, and I I think that’s the main thing. It is especially important that we will soon be playing in the biggest football tournaments.”