London: England manager Gareth Southgate has been told his job is safe even if his side lose all their group matches at next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Southgate took the reins on a permanent basis 12 months ago on a four-year contract and oversaw a successful qualification for the 2018 showpiece event, where England will face Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in the group stage.
Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn said he would retain faith that England have the right man at the helm – “for the next few tournaments” – regardless of results in Russia.
“Gareth has a long-term contract. We’ve got a long-term plan. You’ve seen it, you’ve seen some of the fruits of it,” said Glenn, quoted in the English press yesterday. “Long-term plans are hard to defend when the short-term results go against you.
“He’s not looking at Russia as a free pass. The World Cup’s a really important staging post for our development, I think.”
England, who are 15th in the Fifa world rankings, failed to qualify for the knockout stages in Brazil in 2014.
“We go out there wanting to win it but also being realistic,” said Glenn. “No-one wants to have a bad World Cup but we’re confident he’s the right guy to take us through for the next few tournaments.”
England’s future hopes have been buoyed by recent age-group successes, including Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup victories, and Glenn believes showing long-term vision is the way forward.
“We’re going to do it in a way that’s sustainable,” he said. “So we’re going to make sure that we’re picking the kind of players that can do their best in Russia and continue to kick on in 2020 and 2022.
“What we’re doing is making sure that players that have made it through to the first team by 21, 22, have had lots and lots of tournament experience. So those under-17 winners and under-20 winners will be coming through and they are serious competitions to win.
“We know that worked for the Germans and we know that worked for the Spanish, so we’re just repeating things they’ve done with our own emphasis on it.”