SOME of the flak leveled at England manager Gareth Southgate were unfair.
After two shocking defeats against Hungary, it was partly fair too.
But whichever side of the Southgate fence you sit on, one fact is undeniable – the national team is in far better shape than it was when he took office six years ago.
Back to 2016 and we had the chaos of a defeat by the might of Iceland followed by the brief reign of Sam Allardyce.
Let’s be honest, we really were the laughing stock of Europe.
Southgate changed the fortunes of the Three Lions and, OK, we didn’t manage to win anything tangible – unlike the Lionesses – but at least we were contenders, if not champions.
A World Cup semi-final followed by a first appearance in a grand final since the turbulent days of 1966 means progress has been made.
Southgate doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend him, he’s big enough to do it himself, but some of the recent snipers have been below the belt.
This England team may not be feared but at least they are respected and much of the credit for that goes to the manager.
Football fans might say Southgate has been lucky to have a stack of talented youngsters on his watch, but remember the so-called ‘Golden Generation’ of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard?
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Yes, me too. And what exactly were we doing back then? To borrow a phrase from Norman Stanley Fletcher in Porridge: “Naff all Godber, naff all”.
Jack Grealish has defended Southgate’s record – and who can blame him?
But I disagree with Grealish’s “that’s what you get if you’re English” comment.
I think if a decent sized national team lost 4-0 at home to Hungary then there would be a stick.
Southgate is a balanced person and he will know that the only guide to a manager’s success or failure is results.
Its results have been excellent until recently. That doesn’t make him a bad manager as his team has lost just 12 games out of 74.
Players can use Southgate’s lack as a motivator.
Beaten by the Magyars in the Molineux-Mauling, they now have the perfect stage to fight for their country and their manager.
Only Harry Kane seems sure of his starting place when we start our World Cup campaign against Iran on November 21 – and the striker’s 50 goals in 73 internationals suggest Southgate is making his name.
As for the rest, there are places up for grabs, and surely that must create real competition?
If we crash early in Qatar rest assured Southgate’s contract won’t be worth much until the end of 2024. But it’s only right that we wait and see how he fares.
We were a penalty shootout from becoming the crowned kings of Europe, so instead of flak, give Southgate some leniency. At least that’s what he earned.
IT was a special moment on Thursday as we welcomed Mark Noble back to West Ham as our new sporting director.
A true legend of the East End, Mark has always been and always will be part of the fabric of West Ham, having made 550 senior appearances in 18 incredible years of dedicated service.
Mark will begin his key role in January – a new role in which he will closely support manager David Moyes and the board, providing input, advice and assistance across the football operation.
We are delighted that in addition to the role he will play on the men’s and women’s teams, he will continue his close association with the academy in his new position.
Respected throughout the game, he is undoubtedly one of our academy’s crown jewels, a one-club man who gave his all for the shirt every time he stepped onto the pitch.
He will now work tirelessly to ensure that the pipeline that has made West Ham famous around the world continues and that we attract, develop and retain great players.
And more importantly, help us build great characters who understand what West Ham stands for.
Anyone who’s seen Mark take a penalty knows he likes responsibility and never falters under pressure.
I know from my own dealings with Mark – particularly as we went through the extremely challenging Covid-19 pandemic – that he has all the skills, attributes and the right character to be a huge success.
Fans know Mark as the man who ran through the walls for West Ham United and always put the club first.
What many won’t know about Mark is his business acumen – he’s smart, entrepreneurial, forward-thinking and has his own mind.
He also has the rare talent of being able to talk to everyone from royalty to the man on the street.
We have big ambitions – on and off the pitch – and Mark will play a key role in helping us achieve great things.
Nobody knows our philosophy and the things that make our great club so special better than he does.
Mark once said West Ham isn’t just a football club, it’s a family.
We are proud to have one of the club’s favorite sons return to such an important position.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6292133/cut-gareth-southgate-england-slack-karren-brady/ Give Gareth Southgate some leeway, critic. England were a penalty shootout away from becoming European champions under him