FA chief executive explains how Gareth Southgate got the England job

Gareth Southgate’s suitability for the permanent England job was not only tested on the touchlines but in physiological assessments.


Gareth Southgate’s suitability for the permanent England job was not only tested on the touchlines but in physiological assessments.

The 46-year-old had not been keen to replace Roy Hodgson in the summer but enjoyed his time as interim manager, with four solid displays leading to a four-year deal as Sam Allardyce’s permanent successor.

It had always appeared a matter of when rather than if Southgate got the job on a permanent basis, despite facing an interview panel over three hours at St George’s Park last Monday.

The five-man panel used summer interviews for Hodgson’s successor as a yardstick to measure the only serious contender for the job, although Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn insists it was no cakewalk for Southgate.

“We had seen a number of people and we had got a pretty clear view in our minds of how we would compare and contrast, so we actually had recently seen a lot of people who could have been contenders,” he said.

“Gareth came through that process – who have we seen, what did Gareth do – and that’s one of the reasons that he passed, if you like.

“But secondly the interview process it was a combination of things, it was a semantic thing, really, but we had to spend a lot of time thinking.

“It was reported as a ‘fire-side chat’ but it was anything but.”

The chief executive said there were “pretty feisty opinions” when it came to analysing his four-match stint with the technical members of a panel that was also comprised of FA chairman Greg Clarke, technical director Dan Ashworth, former manager Howard Wilkinson and ex-England left-back Graeme Le Saux.

It was not only Southgate’s analytical strengths that were up for scrutiny but his ability to cope under pressure, with a third-party brought in to do a psychological assessment.

Questionnaires were part of the former defender’s evaluation, with Glenn saying it is “normal in sport” and a way of checking he thinks correctly when the heat is on.

“It’s really important for the England team and it has got to be important for anyone in what is a high pressure role,” the FA chief executive said of thinking correctly under pressure.

“We had Gareth independently assessed for kind of mental strengths, how he takes decisions under pressure, et cetera, so that was a separate set.

“We also had extensive background checks, as you might imagine, so there was a number of different data sets that went in.

“And then I think you get an impression after you have been three hours with someone, going through quite a lot of things – we went through the psychological assessments together in terms of what use or what you thought was important.

“That has also given us an idea of ‘what kind of support do we need to put around Gareth?’ because if you look at the great national teams it’s never just one person. It’s a support network.

“We have the physical infrastructure at St George’s Park, so it sort of says ‘what do we need to do to guarantee that England under Gareth can be as successful as they can?’ It was really helpful for that.

“That to me was just a very helpful three hours. In fact what we said afterwards is that we’d like to do it again.

“It was just useful to, in a way, step back, without having to answer detailed questions about who to pick next week, to ask: where is this all going?

“It was a combination of things to compare and contrast against other people we had seen, looking at some independent assessment about the type of manager he is, thinker he is, and then seeing him answer quite a few tough questions.”


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.