Gareth Southgate make pledge to England amid links to Chelsea job
Gareth Southgate said yesterday that he would not be in the running for the Chelsea job when Maurizio Sarri departs this summer and that he was confident his assistant, Steve Holland, a former coach at the club, would also stay with England for next summer's European Championship.
Southgate, 48, would have figured on the shortlist for the Chelsea job and was certainly under consideration at Manchester United until Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was installed as the permanent manager in March.
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As Chelsea look to appoint a new permanent manager for the tenth time in the 16-year Roman Abramovich era, Holland is being considered for a role.
England play their final game of the season today in Guimaraes against Switzerland, the unwelcome third-place Nations League play-off following the 3-1 defeat by Holland on Thursday.
Marina Granovskaia, the director who runs Chelsea on Abramovich's behalf, rates Holland highly and would see him as a part of a new staff. He left to join the Football Association permanently in December 2016 with his role at Chelsea having been reduced throughout the Antonio Conte regime. The FA thought it might be approached by Chelsea to appoint Holland as an interim manager in January and February when it seemed that Sarri might not even last the season at Stamford Bridge. Having survived to secure the club third place and the Europa League trophy, he is expected to leave for Juventus in the next few days.
The two clubs are agreeing compensation and then Chelsea will have to turn their minds to a new manager. On his own future, Southgate said: "I'm committed to England, simple as that. I don't need to hedge my bets in keeping doors open or keeping things alive. There's no way that I would leave England at this moment in time, to take any job."
It is not clear whether Granovskaia considers Holland as a potential manager of Chelsea, given how little experience he has in that regard - just a short stint in charge of Crewe Alexandra more than ten years ago.
Petr Cech will return to the club now he has retired from playing, as a link between the first team and the board, and is also expected to have a major say in the process.
Southgate said that he and Holland, who worked together previously with England Under-21s, had formed a strong partnership: "He [Holland] is hugely important to everything we do. We are probably the two that live and breathe every single minute of preparation for England; selection of players; tactical preparation; because we are the two people who are full-time on that side. The hours and the days and the nights and the early mornings help me to understand that literally becomes constant.
"For me he is hugely important in terms of his experience, his knowledge, the way he delivers the coaching as well. But I am sure at some point in the future he is going to want to be a manager and take that opportunity.
"I don't believe that would be now, because he is very committed to the work we are doing, looking forward to next summer and hopefully this team will develop. But unquestionably, I'm sure he is going to get the same desires."
Southgate added: "I also understand when you have good staff then they're going to be coveted by other people. That's a healthy sign because you don't want bad staff who nobody else wants.
"And I always would have to find a balance between allowing somebody the opportunity to do something they want to do - somebody who has given me massive support and I couldn't thank him enough - with having the desire not to lose them. Because you know they're an integral part of what we do."
England will kick off at 2pm against Switzerland in the same stadium where they played 120 minutes on Thursday, and with some changes to the side. The Liverpool pair of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez will come in to defence. Left-back Danny Rose is expected to replace the injured Ben Chilwell. Marcus Rashford, injured in the Dutch defeat, is expected to be replaced in the starting line-up by Harry Kane. Jordan Henderson is also struggling for fitness.
Southgate argued that while the Dutch had more possession on Thursday, a consequence of them committing more players to midfield and Frenkie de Jong's mastery of that position, his own team created more chances with the directness of their passing.
"They [Holland] dropped [Memphis] Depay deep, brought [Ryan] Babel inside and tried to overload midfield so they valued possession highly. But it meant they didn't threaten quite as directly, other [than] from errors or quick transitions. Twelve of their chances were from transitions."
He added: "Will we be better in 12 months' time? Absolutely. Because we constantly need to improve. Individuals, because of their age, are bound to improve and they are hungry to do that, certainly from the senior players and their response to the result.
"They want to drive on. They don't want to be settled and comfortable with semi-finals. It is not enough for them, same for me. So it is good we are on the same page."
Gomez, 22, is likely to come in for John Stones, whose mistake in extra time led directly to Holland's second goal. The Liverpool defender said that the team had to accept that there would always be risks involved playing a possession-heavy game when the ball was passed out from defence even in the most difficult situations.
"You have to trust one another I suppose and with it comes risk," Gomez said. "I think that's a clear example but there's no reward without risk."