Career Going South?

by James Baker

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

It was with some sadness I heard that Gareth Southgate had been sacked yesterday. I always felt he had the making of a decent manager. I suppose in these days of quick fix changes and changing managers when a few results go wrong, none of us should be surprised.

OK, Boro were relegated last season but I felt he was working with his hands tied a little. Yes, he spent big money on Alfonso Alves, but he did not lavish money on others. When I saw Boro play at our place early on last season, the pace and movement of the team was excellent and they looked a really decent team. How they lost the game, I wasn’t quite sure. A lack of experience to compliment some of the very good youngsters seemed to be the problem that day as they were a little naïve at times. Ultimately, this was to be the footnote for their season. A great academy producing some very decent young players but not enough funding to compliment this and a lack of experience cost them dearly come May time. I know it is very unlikely that he will ever read this piece, but if he was, would Gianfranco Zola be sensing a feeling of déjà vu repeating itself with the Hammers this year?

However, I digress. Was the timing of Southgate’s dismissal a surprise? Boro had just won their first home game for a while and yet a few hours later, Southgate was on his way. In Steve Gibson, Southgate had one of the most supportive of chairmen possible in today’s game. They looked to be a solid unit. Gibson must have had his doubts in persevering with Southgate after the relegation last season but persevere he did. Yet it seems that some indifferent form this season was enough for Gibson, despite the team being fourth in the table. I accept nobody likes to be thrashed 5 nil by one of their main rivals for promotion at their own ground but there are always freak days.

Will Gibson be investing more in the team? Alves and Huth cost a bit but they have not really been competing for the big names for a few years now. The days of Juninho, Ravenelli et al are long gone. I think Southgate leaves a team with potential. How long can a chairman wait, though? This was obviously one of Gibson’s main concerns. From what we hear, Gordon Strachan will be the next man to step up to the plate. I hope Strachan does well and sees Southgate’s team back to the Premiership.

As mentioned previously, I really felt Boro were not far away from being a fair team last season. Indeed, I remember an article by Dexy last season which was very favourable to the boys from Teeside and Southgate (sorry, Dexy). They probably deserved to be relegated. There are not many teams that do not deserve it. However, the events of the past few days still surprised me a little.

I would like to think that Southgate will be back in football very soon. A thoroughly decent bloke (I know he missed that penalty but we can all forgive, surely?) and I think a young coach with plenty of potential. Yet again, another promising British manager experiences a difficult season in the top flight and then pays the price. For Southgate see Ince, Pardew, Coleman, Dowie and more than I can remember. In Italy, on average, a coach has been doing the job for 7 years before taking a post with a Serie A club. Is this something we can learn from here? Once a manager gets the push from a Premier League club, that tarnished reputation is always very difficult to recover and they usually disappear in to the Championship or beyond and then we often hear very little of them again. Maybe this is because they are not good enough. Surely they would bounce back if they were good managers? Maybe so, but I think it is so difficult for a manager psychologically after that initial big job.

I wish you well, Gareth and hope you can bounce back soon. Talking of careers going south, Rafael Benitiez anyone? Maybe we will save that one for another day!

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  • Lauri Cox

    I totally agree with the sentiments above. Gareth was nothing but a true gent, a loyal servant and the best club captain we have ever had. HE lifted our only trophy, captained us on two epic European ventures – and for that no Boro fan worth their salt can thank him enough.

    He stepped up to the plate when he was a rookie – and for 2 years it worked. He isn’t the first manager to step up and fail – and won’t be the last. At least he had 2 seasons of mid table finishes to prove that one day, he is going to be the manager we all KNOW he can be.

    It just so happened his demise came in the third season (Relegation) when the money had dried up, and a recession aswell. I’m not blaming the recession for falling gate numbers 100%, but it can’t have helped.

    With the correct backing Gareth Southgate will one day be a fantastic manager – and in the words of Arsne Wenger – the England manager.

    I’m not sure if i’ve seen a more respected man in modern day football.

    All i can say is Gareth left us with some very happy memories, and i hope he has some brilliant memories of us aswell.

    All the best for whatever you do in the furture Gareth, it was a pleasure.

  • jackieemu

    A very good article…I agree with almost all the points you highlight although he did lavish a bit of money as it all adds up, he gambled on couple of untried premiership players in Emnes and Digard to replace stead fast players…and he bought average players in Hoyte and Aliadiere. My main gripe is he was obviously a talented coach on paper but would often look lost if we we’re losing a game…he had players who could change games or players in form and he wouldn’t select them…For whatever reasons…I’m sure he will become a great manager…he’s in the Wenger mould but just unlucky and under different constraints.
    I wish him well he’s a very likable man.

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