Well, England are out of the World Cup and it’s time to do all the wrap-up pieces. The highs, the lows, the recriminations and that.
Except…it isn’t. Because this isn’t that kind of England team, is it? If you do that, you’re kind of a nob, aren’t you? To an England squad who have been a ray of blindingly beautiful sunshine in a month of warmth?
Anyway I’m going to write about why Gareth Southgate is the best. Thanks.
1) LOOK AT HOW HAPPY HE IS
There’s just something infectiously delightful about a genuinely happy person, and Southgate absolutely has one of those smiles.
Whether it’s when he cracks into a grin on the sidelines, when he’s chuckling about the possibility of England getting into the final in an interview, when he’s got that rueful little smirk talking about his England past…yes. Smile.
2) He’s just so…normal
Now, normal doesn’t mean ordinary. Technically it kind of does, but there’s a difference here. There’s something so unassuming about Southgate, the man who’d just be on the edge of your social group or in the office, and whenever you talk about him you just end up gushing about what a nice bloke he is.
He’s delightfully grounded. He’d spot you for lunch if you forgot your wallet, no problem. Arm around the shoulder and a sensible word when you’re going through a rough time. Gareth. He’s just sound.
Gareth Southgate is dad.
4) Look at the team he’s put together!
Look at them! Playing with a togetherness! Beating football teams! Picking up innovative set piece tactics and implementing them without being Tony Pulis! Making Kieran Trippier look like an international standard football! Making Jordan Henderson look like a commanding central midfielder!
6) An apology
When the World Cup qualifiers ended in October, I wrote a reasonably scathing piece rating the performances of every England player who had featured in the 10-game campaign, plus the manager.
It didn’t age well.
Oh god, I just found something I wrote about Gareth Southgate in October when I rated everyone in England’s World Cup qualifying campaign. It has not aged well pic.twitter.com/AtIYzvSQE6
— Chris Deeley (@ThatChris1209) July 9, 2018
I was so, so, utterly wrong. Gareth Southgate was so, so utterly right. The chances he took paid off, and the players he put his faith in repaid him tenfold, time and again. I am a clown – not even one of the better known clowns – and Dad Gareth is the opposite of a clown. What is the opposite of a clown? Google says it’s ‘wizard’, which feels a bit arbitrary but basically seems to work.
7) He hugs, like, everyone
Isn’t it lovely? Hugs! For all! His players! And opposition players who miss penalties in shootouts, like what how he did! Because he’s lovely!