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Gareth Southgate, The Understated Manager, Has Transformed The Nation's Relationship With Its Football Team

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As Gareth Southgate lingered under the bright lights of the Luzhniki Stadium late into the night and absorbed a very different sort of pain following another major semi-final defeat with England, it was again his basic decency that shone through.

He looked across for Zlatko Dalic to offer his congratulations and, while the Croatia manager was rather more preoccupied with celebrating the greatest night in his nation’s football history, Southgate instead made his way over to thank the officials. And next the crestfallen England players, some of whom were shedding the same tears he experienced at this stage of Euro 1996, and then also the fans.

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It took some 15 minutes and yet Southgate had still not forgotten the Croatians. One by one, they also received a good firm handshake. There are many reasons why Southgate should be given time to build on this foundation, not least how he understands the desperate ongoing need to develop players who can keep possession against the very best, but you still felt reassured and well represented by his presence.

Anyone doubting his popularity and ability to influence people beyond the narrow confines of sport needed only to count the waistcoats on the London Underground in the morning. Changing perceptions of what matters in a leader has been a nice addition to transforming a nation’s relationship with their national football team. People often ask football journalists what some manager or other is like. And they are conditioned to expect someone out of the ordinary. Noise, charisma, humour, iron discipline and that intangible thing that we call “an aura”.


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Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-cup/2018/07/11/gareth-southgate-understated-manager-has-transformed-nations/

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