Gareth Southgate has revealed he considered his future as England manager before the Qatar World Cup but now believes he has the chance to make history with the team after his family persuaded him to stay on.
The 52-year-old spent a week pondering his future after England’s 2-1 defeat to France in the World Cup quarter-finals before it was announced he intended to see out a contract that runs until December 2024.
But Southgate was left to wonder if he was the right man for the job after the strong criticism that came after the 4-0 Nations League defeat to Hungary in June, and had considered announcing he would step down at the end of the World Cup.
“There was negativity about me being in charge and the last thing I wanted was for that to be the overarching feeling going into a World Cup when you need the fans and everybody behind the team," Southgate told ITV News.
“You need that energy; you need that sense of togetherness.
“And if the debate was only going to be about finding flaws in what we were doing, in order that I go at the end, then that would have been very difficult for the team to perform at their best.”
The disappointment of England’s humbling Nations League campaign was quickly forgotten during the group stages as Southgate’s side enjoyed a 6-2 win over Iran and a 3-0 victory over Wales either side of a goalless draw against the United States in order to advance.
A 3-0 win over Senegal in the round of 16 set up a quarter-final against defending champions France but it ended in a 2-1 defeat after captain Harry Kane missed the second of two penalties late on.
“The performance against France has shown the players if they didn’t believe it before, which I still wonder whether they truly believed that before the game, but coming off the field they know that is a game they could win and should have won,” Southgate said.
England v France ratings
After the match Southgate said he needed time to think about his future, with the announcement that he was staying coming eight days later on December 18.
The former Middlesbrough manager said his family were key to the decision he made. “They left Doha saying you’ve got to give this one more go and try to get this trophy,” he said.
That is now the clear aim for Southgate as he turns his attention towards Euro 2024, with England having been drawn against Italy, Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta in Group C of the qualifiers.
Southgate accepts the only way to answer his critics will be with silverware, but said he believes that is a realistic prospect with this generation of players.
“I’m in a job with the chance to make some history and I have the privilege of leading the national team,” he said.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience. I think we’ve made progress with the team across the years we’ve been in charge and I’m determined to try and drive the team that next step.
“I think now we’re in a different landscape to any previous England team I guess, because of the success we’ve had. In our own minds, winning is probably the only thing that’s going to fulfil us.”