Sunday 17 December 2017

Southgate: We can learn from rugby team's winning mentality

England manager Gareth Southgate during a press conference at the Atlantic Congress Hotel, Essen, Germany. Photo: PA
England manager Gareth Southgate during a press conference at the Atlantic Congress Hotel, Essen, Germany. Photo: PA

Jason Burt

Gareth Southgate will take charge of his first match after being confirmed as England's permanent manager with a clear, uncompromising message: the need to be more professional; the need to wise up and the need for football to no longer be the "missing piece" when it comes to being successful in sport.

It was a message to the players, to the FA and to the Premier League, even; a message to English football as a whole; a message, also, that he cannot do this on his own; that the isolationism has to stop.

It helped Southgate's argument that England face Germany, a nation who have the "mindset" and the organisation, that needs to be emulated. But it is not just Germany.

"Look at Spain," Southgate said. "We're an island, we've got to get off the island and learn from them. We need to look in the mirror and change the way we do things tactically, physical preparation, our style of play and mentality. We've had success in every other sport in our country. We're probably the missing piece."

In was a continuation of a theme he voiced last week, when naming his squad, and when he spoke of how England's "island" mentality had "saved us in 1945, I'm not sure it's helped us ever since". Players, he said, "see one league, they see Sky Sports News… they think we're the centre of the earth and we're not".

Having just come back from observing the work of England rugby union coach Eddie Jones, Southgate had some lessons to deliver.

"The culture in rugby I think we can take something from," he said. "They get the players to present the opposition analysis, rather than it being fed by the coach… and of course he (Jones) has a winning mentality - he is constantly asking for more. They were 18 games unbeaten and I saw his quote saying 'we are nowhere near ready to win the World Cup'. He recognised what the end looks like and what the environment needs to look like."

For Southgate it is about also creating that environment. "I think what our opponents (Germany) have is a consistent plan in thinking from youth level right the way through," he said while given an example that goes to the heart of English football.

"I guess to highlight the difference they (Germany) postponed the start of the Bundesliga because they got a team in the Olympics," he said.

"We can't even get a team in the Olympics. So that's the collaboration they have."

He went on: "We've probably got some work to do in terms of the connection between the DFB (German Football Federation) and Bundesliga is immensely strong and the opportunity for the young German players to play in the League, there is a real buy-in on that." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Germany v England, Live, ITV, 7.45

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