Gareth Southgate will not decide on his England future until after Euro 2024, and says that performance will not be the only determining factor. It has long been anticipated that the 53-year-old will leave after this tournament, but it was similar with the 2022 World Cup, and he insisted that his sole focus is preparing for a campaign he hopes ends with victory. Southgate undeniably left open the possibility that he will stay as he spoke at England’s Nations League draw, and enthused about Jude Bellingham’s impact at Real Madrid.
When directly asked whether he had made a decision, Southgate said “no”. “You’ve got to see how the summer goes. It’s as simple as that. In my view, I know what we’re capable of achieving in the summer, I know what my own benchmark of success would be. After that, I’m not really thinking about anything else at the moment... In the end, we’ve got to deliver performance, and you’ve got to make the best decisions for everybody, really. I won’t be in a position to make that decision before the tournament.
“You’ve got to keep winning football matches, and then make decisions so I’m completely relaxed about that. All my focus is on delivering the best possible tournament this summer.
“We’ve always built this period in afterwards to reflect on things and to make the best possible decisions for England.
“If we did anything before, it would be detrimental to the performance in the summer, whichever way your decision went.
“I think while our focus is on the summer, from a personal perspective you’re fully invested in what happens and I think that’s how it should be.”
When asked whether the outcome of Euro 2024 would be the main determinant Southgate said “not necessarily”.
Although Southgate didn’t directly answer whether the prospect of overseeing potentially the best player in the world in Bellingham could influence the decision, he enthused about the Real Madrid forward’s accelerated form.
“He’s been remarkable, really. We know that he can adapt to pretty much anything. Clearly, they’ve used him in a more advanced role. I guess the bit none of us necessarily saw was the number of goals he’s scored. He’s always looked to make those runs but he hasn’t always had that finishing capacity, and he’s done that brilliantly. I’ve obviously spoken about him in September, October, November, but he continues to do exceptionally well. Again I know the club are very happy with him.
“It’s definitely different to where we started him, but when he’s having the success in the role he has it would be silly not to mirror that in terms of where he will play.”
Southgate said he may look at Manchester United’s Kobbie Mainoo in the build-up to the Euros. “I think he’s doing brilliantly for a young player. He’s had an excellent start for Manchester United. I’m not certain he’s necessarily going to be a defensive midfielder, as such. He’s quite a progressive player, but he’s had a fabulous start to his career and it will be good to monitor him as we go forward.”
While Southgate did not directly answer a question on Marcus Rashford’s recent issues, he did say England are naturally “observing” everything that is happening. The forward scored in United’s 4-3 win over Wolves, having been disciplined for a night out in Belfast.
“We’re five weeks away from picking a squad, although so much happens to players over the period between November and March that we’re always sitting and observing everything on and off the pitch.
“Then, in a few weeks’ time, we’ll have decisions to make on the whole squad and there’s going to be a lot of attention on that because it’s the final squad before the Euros.”
The England manager did speak more warmly about Jordan Henderson, now the midfielder has made the move from the Saudi Pro League to Ajax. “It’s easier to assess somebody playing in a European League, I think you know, for him, I think he’ll be excited about the game the other night. It’s a proper derby atmosphere playing in a game where firstly the club are absolutely delighted to have him there, he’s had a really warm welcome and been really well received. I’m sure at the moment that will mean a lot to him.”
England were, meanwhile, drawn in a Nations League group with Ireland, Finland and Greece, which could bring some criticism for Jack Grealish and Declan Rice. Both played for Irish underage sides, with Rice also appearing in friendlies for the senior team before switching to England. Southgate backed them to get through any boos, as he extolled Rice’s performances.“I have to say that I don’t know where we would have been without them, especially Declan. If we hadn’t had Declan over the past four years then I don’t know what we would have done.”