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It is almost a shame for the Football Association that they employ Gareth Southgate as a manager … because he would make the perfect chairman.
One day, perhaps. Again, on the eve of a match, Southgate had to deal with issues far removed from whether Jack Grealish will get a decent run-out.
And he dealt with them with his trademark authority.
The FA needs to stop having workshops about change – and actually change. Less talk, more action.
Greg Clarke’s successor should be the best person for the job, regardless of gender and ethnicity, but must be progressive.
Ex-footballers should have more influence and say in the policies of the FA.
Southgate outlined the qualities Paul Elliott brings to the administrative table and even had time to calmly and rationally make some important points in the debate about football and dementia.
Gareth Southgate has been praised for some of his leadership qualities
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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But, in the immediate wake of the Joe Gomez injury, he was at his most strident in lamenting the failure of the various authorities to organise a sensible football calendar.
“There was an opportunity this year to think differently,” he said.
“The pandemic has thrown up all sorts of difficulties but everybody’s tried to cram the program into a smaller period and nobody has given way and people haven’t collaborated enough.
“We are going to see injuries and it’s a desperately sad situation because when you see the impact on an individual, it hits home even more.
“We’re now trying to affect things too late. We could have delayed the start of the league, we could have delayed international football.
“We could have adjusted the calendar in its entirety and all worked together. And people haven’t done that.”
That means three internationals are being played in a week and Southgate will be under scrutiny from club managers worried about excessive game time for their players.
Greg Clarke was forced to resign after making a series of deeply offensive remarks
(Image: Getty Images)
Southgate will clearly rotate but also knows he will be pilloried if Grealish only features in one of the three fixtures, as happened last month.
At least the Grealish issue allowed Southgate to get back to what he truly likes to talk about – the game itself.
And it seems, having appeared to have been a sceptic for some time, Southgate is warming to Grealish.
He explained: “I was asked about Jack in September and we were selecting a squad on, predominantly, the post-lockdown period.
After Christmas, Jack was 22 games and one goal.
“So we knew a good player but not one in the form that maybe people were suggesting.
“Now, this is different. He’s now four goals in seven matches, plus one cleared off the line against Leeds, one cleared off the line against Arsenal.
Gareth Southgate has mentored the likes of Mason Mount during his time as manager
(Image: Getty Images)
“He’s creating chances – look at the goal he created the other day where he's holding Bellerin off and able to find the pass while running at full tilt.
“We're not blind to a good player. I think we've challenged him on a couple of parts of his game and his response to that has been brilliant.
“I still think some of the other players we're talking about are very good players as well and I think it's a shame that there seems to be criticism of Mason (Mount) – and at his club as well.
“I think Mason’s only crime is not to be Jack at the moment.
“But it's not fair to compare, they're different players and maybe we can learn something about Mason tomorrow in a slightly different role as well.
“I think they can both be important players for England.”
And after another build-up dominated by matters beyond his control, Southgate will no doubt relish his time in the technical area.
The chairman’s gig can wait.