‘Shut up clowns’: What 11 people are saying about Gareth Southgate

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England manager Gareth Southgate during their UEFA Nations League defeat against Hungary at Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton.

Gareth Southgate has been England’s most successful manager in over 50 years but a 4-0 defeat at home to Hungary has increased the pressure on his position.

Southgate led England to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 and was a penalty shoot-out away from winning last summer’s European Championship.

But his side have been poor throughout June’s Nations League fixtures, scoring just one goal and failing to win a game. Pressure exploded during Hungary’s thumping win at Molineux, with England fans booing the manager and some demanding his removal from the role.

Following the game, Southgate told reporters: “I know there’ll be a lot of criticism and there’ll be a lot of call for change I’m sure.

“But I go back to the fact when we’ve had our strongest teams we’ve had excellent results, I think, and I believe the players have still given everything.”

And we’ve collected together what 11 other footballers and pundits have been saying about the suddenly under-pressure England boss.

Harry Kane

“Let’s not forget where we’ve come from,” Kane said during his post-match interview. “We got to our first final in 60 years nearly and got to a semi-final of a World Cup compared to where we were in the last 50 years. It’s not time to panic.

“Of course we understand the frustration. We want to win every time we put on an England shirt. We’ve got to take it on the chin. We’re not going to be perfect every game.”

And, when the England captain was asked if Southgate is still the manager to take the team forward, he replied: “Without any question. That’s not a question I should even be answering if I’m honest.”

Raheem Sterling

Put to Sterling that Southgate has been a very good England manager to him and many of the players, the forward added: “And the country. I keep saying after these last couple of games, you can’t be judged on that.

“If you look at the steps that he’s made over the last couple of tournaments, semi-final and a final, I think a Nations League couple of bad results is not something that we can judge him on.

“He’s led us incredibly well. He’s showed us the way, he’s helped us mature from young men to senior pros, a lot of us in the dressing room.

“He’s doing that now with a lot of the young lads and he’s trying to make sure that everyone’s got enough experience for when we do hit the big time that we’re all ready.”

Jamie Carragher

Former England defender Carragher tweeted: “‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ shut up you clowns. This manager has taken the country in two tournaments to the best positions since 1966.

“Also this idea that Southgate is holding this group back is nonsense, this squad is no better than 2004/6 1996/98. Southgate has overachieved albeit with favourable draws. Rest up boys and come back to your normal level.”

Gary Neville

Neville, Carragher’s sparring partner on Sky Sports, offered a different take in the aftermath of the thrashing by Hungary.

“Sympathy for the fans and for the players,” Neville tweeted. “This isn’t right. Players/Coaches will have to collectively come together to start to influence the programme to get that clear break..”

Phil Foden in action for England against Hungary, Wembley Stadium, October 2021

READ: Revisiting ESPN’s 2022 World Cup predictions from 2018

Gary Lineker

“I’m sticking to cricket,” Lineker wrote on Twitter afterwards. “I said previously that England missed a trick by not resting all their important players so they’d be fresh for the World Cup.

“Would have also loved to have seen us adopt Liverpool’s way of playing. Would suit us perfectly. I also acknowledge I’ve never been a coach.”

Joe Cole

Cole, who was part of three World Cup squads for England, believed the fans are misguided in their targeting of Southgate.

Speaking on Channel 4 after the game, the former Chelsea and West Ham midfielder said: “For the fans I can understand the frustration, but you have to put some perspective on it.

“Gareth Southgate does know what he is doing, of course he does he has taken this group of players and his staff have taken them to a semi-final and a final.

“That is the most successful manager since Alf Ramsey, now that is factual no one can argue with that.”

Trevor Steven

Former England midfielder Steven believed fans were wrong to boo Gareth Southgate’s side at Molineux.

“No, it’s not justified,” he told Sky Sports. “But that’s what football is like. Some people start singing that, others join in, and then it becomes a chorus.

“It comes with the territory when you’re England manager. You will be under extreme scrutiny and we want to see England in good form going into the World Cup.”

Danny Murphy

“I refuse to jump on this negative bandwagon of criticism toward Gareth Southgate and our England team,” Murphy wrote in the Daily Mail after the goalless draw against Italy.

“For decades, we romped through qualifiers and friendlies but failed in tournaments. Back then, it was only the tournaments that mattered. That was how we judged England.

“Now, under Southgate, we reach semi-finals and finals of major tournaments – but then it’s only because of easy groups and knockout gimmes. We struggle a bit in some glorified friendlies and, suddenly, it’s these that matter after all.”

Stephen Warnock

Former Liverpool and England defender Stephen Warnock does not think Southgate is the right man “’to take the next step’ with the national team.

Warnock told BBC Sport: “Would Gareth Southgate get a job in the top six of the Premier League? This is the national team, you have to have the best manager in charge to manage them.

“I think he is a fantastic frontman for England, he speaks incredibly well, has brought the team closer, with the public, the press, he has been great, but you have to take the next step. For me, I’m not sure he is the man to take that next step.”

Warnock, who won two caps for England between 2008 and 2010, added: “This England team should dominate teams, the other team should not get a kick of the ball, they are that good, but the England team always plays on the back foot.

“The best managers in world football want the day-to-day and you would have to look at another option whether that’s someone doing a duel role for the World Cup.

“If he (Southgate) was to step aside or be relieved of his duties there would be a lot of managers interested because they would love to work with this squad.”

Tony Cottee

Cottee, who won seven England caps in the 1980s, insisted Southgate must choose his best formation and stick to it.

“It was just dreadful last night,” the former West Ham and Everton striker said. “I watched the game, I don’t get what his best team is. I don’t think Gareth knows.

“I don’t think he gets what his best formation is, more importantly, because if you know your formation you can work your players around it.

“You might be leaving good players out, but you’ve got your formation and you know what you’re going to do.

“But he plays three at the back, four at the back, five at the back.”

Simon Jordan

Speaking on talkSPORT, former Crystal Palace owner Jordan said: “There is a narrative building and it’s a justified narrative that Gareth Southgate is a one-dimensional manager, someone who can affect play from the first whistle but when the game changes on the pitch he doesn’t do much to address it.

“No other manager – I don’t care who they are, Bobby Robson, Kevin Keegan, Steve McClaren – have had the draws in big tournaments that this fella has had.

“He’s had more luck than anybody. He’s had more luck than the luckiest person from luckland.”

But, in mitigation, he added: “Regardless of whether I think he’s had an easy ride, he’s taken us to the semi-final of a World Cup and the final or a European Championship.

“Why do we have to have this ridiculous over-egging of the pudding about how bad we are? The media created temperature and fans responded to it.

“The next step has to be winning a tournament and he’s rightly under pressure but the hysteria that’s building because of this result is bloody silly.”


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