Gareth Southgate s England Redemption or Regression at UEFA Euro 2024


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Gareth Southgate's England UEFA Euro 2024 squad has landed in Germany, ready to confront a pivotal test that could cement their reputation. As serious contenders or brand them as perennial underachievers who stumble when it matters most. Whether it ends after their Euro Cup 2024 campaign or continues further, Southgate's tenure must always be assessed in light of the progress made since the disarray he inherited.

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Now 53, Southgate was appointed permanently in November 2016 following the Football Association's 67-day, one-match stint with Sam Allardyce. Allardyce had replaced Roy Hodgson, who resigned after England's disappointing last-16 exit to Iceland at the UEFA Euro 2016 in France. Since then, Southgate has led England to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, the Euro Cup 2020 final, and the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals in Qatar.

Friday's humiliating defeat at Wembley to Iceland, their renowned conquerors at UEFA Euro 2016, now ranked only 72nd globally, was hardly the farewell England fans had hoped for as they headed to Germany.  It left Southgate with much to contemplate before Sunday's tournament opener against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen.

It should also be seen in the broader context of it being a friendly match before the serious competition begins. There is much to be hopeful about as England arrives and heads to their base in Blankenhain. Southgate has also fostered a sense of well-being within England's squad, where players now relish representing their country without being burdened by the weight of the shirt and expectations.

A Narrative of Hope and Heartbreak

He has also rekindled a sense of goodwill towards the team and himself from the outside. Indeed, Southgate's tenure has offered enough storylines for a West End Theatre production titled Dear England the issue being there is no happy ending to this tale either on stage or on the pitch.

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Dear England is, however, set to reappear next spring with a rare blank space at the end of the current script, in anticipation of Southgate and his squad changing the narrative to a victorious one at UEFA Euro 2024. That is why this tournament carries an element of 'now or never' after the World Cup defeats to Croatia in 2018 and then to France four years later.

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Along with the significant missed opportunity of losing to Italy on penalties at Wembley in the Euro Cup 2020 final, in what was effectively a home tournament for England in all but name. Sufficient subplots are accompanying England's journey to ensure ample debate over whether this will mark Southgate's final opportunity to make his mark.

England lands in Germany boasting an array of top-tier talent and standout performers who would be the envy of any other nation at the Euro Cup 2024, from skipper Harry Kane to the emerging sensation Jude Bellingham now a Champions League victor with Real Madrid alongside Phil Foden from Manchester City.

England's Blend of Experience and Youth

Southgate's squad selection was bold and exciting in midfield and attacking areas, with Crystal Palace's Adam Wharton and Eberechi Eze being standout picks, and Newcastle United's Anthony Gordon and Chelsea's Cole Palmer also adding width and flair. This meant no place for Manchester City's Jack Grealish or Tottenham playmaker James Maddison.

Southgate will feel the loss of Manchester United defender Harry Maguire to injury acutely, having come to rely on his leadership and presence. England's squad combines experience and youthful exuberance. They should feel capable of winning the UEFA Euro 2024. And this time, there can be no excuses anything short of victory must be regarded as a huge disappointment.

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To call it a failure might be too harsh if, as predicted, they play France in the semi-final and encounter Kylian Mbappe and company at their best. But a major disappointment? Absolutely. The risk factor is also high for Southgate, a measured and settled figure who has brought authority and common sense to an infamously difficult job.

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After a period of turmoil during the Hodgson years and the brief, uncomfortable stint with Allardyce. What the manager and England must do now is prove they are winners. England can be surrounded by every feel-good factor possible, but it will not extend beyond the summer if they fall short once more.

Southgate's Future: The Post-Euro 2024 Debate

Southgate's future will also undoubtedly be a topic of debate regardless of the outcome at UEFA Euro 2024. He has given no hints of departure, while talk of potentially succeeding Erik ten Hag at Manchester United has been dismissed - his principles, among other things, mean England has his full focus. The manager's next move is sure to be shaped, in large part, by events over the coming weeks.

If England does not end the men's team's sterile spring dating back to the World Cup win in 1966, then Southgate may texture that four major events over almost eight years mean his tenure has run its course. His record is better than anyone with the Three Lions since Sir Alf Ramsey, and Southgate will have managed England at more tournaments than both Sven-Goran Eriksson, who oversaw three quarter-final exits, and Hodgson.

Former Fulham manager Hodgson guided England through three major tournaments, but his final two outings at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil saw the squad falter. Unable to progress beyond the group stage, followed by the humiliation against Iceland two years later proved to be painful episodes of national sporting embarrassment. Experts Debate England's Euro Cup 2024 Squad Selections.

If England succeeds in Germany - and what a fortuitous they have - then Southgate must choose whether to go out on a high or take a third shot at the World Cup in 2026. His side is regarded as favourites by many, even though their ranking of fourth in the FIFA standings places Belgium and France ahead of them.

England's Potential UEFA Euro 2024 Opponents

A group comprising Serbia, Denmark, and Slovenia will not be taken informally but holds no frights. If all goes to plan and England tops the group, they could face Italy in the quarter-finals, France in the semi-finals, and Spain in the final. As this is England it is doing many heavy stealing in that declaration.

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England, however, does have a squad capable of winning the trophy, and that is why anything less will not be considered sufficient. Kane, Bellingham, Foden, and others would fit seamlessly into any of their continental rivals' teams. England has a reliable, experienced goalkeeper in Jordan Pickford and a world-class centre-half, when fit, in Manchester City's John Stones.

Pressing questions remain over left-back, central defence, and who fits alongside Declan Rice in midfield, but elsewhere England appears to be the real deal except they are not until they win something, and that is the challenge with Southgate and this team. Will the disappointments of the past three major tournaments forge the mental fortitude powerful enough to see England's breakthrough?

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