Saturday 18 November 2017

Southgate to get England job barring Scots disaster

England caretaker manager Gareth Southgate. Photo: PA
England caretaker manager Gareth Southgate. Photo: PA

Matt Law

Gareth Southgate appears certain to be appointed England manager next week.

It seems that only a humiliating World Cup qualifying defeat by Scotland at Wembley on Friday night could ruin the plan to appoint Southgate, with the result against Spain in next Tuesday's friendly not thought to be a threat to his prospects.

Sources close to the decision-making process have informed managers who had still harboured slim hopes of being considered that the intention is to appoint Southgate after the Spain match.

Arsène Wenger has always been the English FA's dream appointment, but the Frenchman turned down the job before Sam Allardyce was appointed and is expected to extend his Arsenal contract.

Eddie Howe, Roberto Mancini and Steve Bruce have been among the names touted as other possible alternatives to Southgate, but the former Middlesbrough manager has been the hot favourite after taking interim charge for four games against Malta, Slovenia, Scotland and Spain.


FA chiefs have been extremely impressed with the way Southgate has handled the role, particularly in dealing with the decision to drop captain Wayne Rooney for the last World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.

Meanwhile, Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte is still planning to shake up his squad and spend big over the next two transfer windows despite having already inspired the club's remarkable turnaround.

Since owner Roman Abramovich agreed to back Conte's plan to make further changes to the playing staff and spend significant cash after the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal, Chelsea have won five successive Premier League games without conceding a goal.

Abramovich has been greatly impressed by the work Conte has done this season and was said to be ecstatic by the manner of the 5-0 victory over Everton last Saturday that meant the Blues go into the international break second in the table.

However, the impressive run has only hardened Conte's desire to do everything possible to strengthen the squad in January to help a potential title push.

Juventus central defender Leonardo Bonucci heads Conte's shopping list, with Roma's Antonio Rudiger and Burnley's Michael Keane also on his radar.

Meanwhile, West Ham face a battle to hold on to Dimitri Payet in January, with a host of top European clubs interested.

Payet signed a new five-and-a-half year contract worth £120,000-a-week in January, but West Ham's poor form has raised big doubts over his future.

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