Gareth Southgate – Future England manager?

by Dexy Longshot

Monday, April 21st, 2008

You are my Boro, my only Boro!

This is the first of a double-header report ahead of next weeks North East Derby featuring Roy Keanes Sunderland against Gareth Southgate’s young Middlesbrough outfit at The Stadium of Light. Both teams suffered defeats this past weekend against the Toon Army & Battling Bolton respectively. Both managers will be desperate to get a win with both teams locked on 36 points a piece just 5 points above the relegation zone. Today, I’m gonna start with Gareth Southgate & The Boys from The Boro.

Fans of a certain age will always remember Euro 96 for Gazza’s sublime flick & volley for the Scotland game goal (and the dentist chair celebration), the glorious Teddy dummy for Shearers goal in the decapitation of Holland, Stuart Pearce making amends for Italia 90 with a thunderous spot kick against the Spaniards and the “C’mmmoooooonnnnn!!!!!!” to the ecstatic England fans at Wembley. For poor old Gareth Southgate, it’s for “that” final sudden death penalty miss in the semis against Ze Germans.



Only a few people can describe the feeling that must go through the mind when a penalty of such importance is missed, Pearce, Waddle & Southgate know better than most, it was probably a life changing shot (albeit a weak one). Victimised by some quarters and heckled the next season by opposition supporters (and that was just his looks!), being reminded about the miss every time a major tournament comes around with endless repeats of the shots on some 2 bob cable “footys worst balls-ups” docs presented by some z-list celeb (I’m awaiting my call Bravo), it must have been tough on Gareth and co, but there was an upside, that pizza-hut wonga must have come in handy for the boys.

Southgate copped a bit of stick the next season but his performances eventually won over supporters and he became one of the finest defenders in the league at Villa and then Middlesbrough and a vital part of the England set up over the next few years winning 57 caps despite never really being an automatic first choice. With his reading of the game and leadership qualities, it was always on the cards that he would make the step up to coaching and management and he was appointed the successor to Steve McClaren’s Middlesbrough hot-seat (fresh from a Uefa cup final loss against Seville) in June 2006 when he was only 35, not to mention a staring role in Borat!

His 2nd full season at Middlesbrough didn’t start of that well with losses to Blackburn and Wigan, a further run a little later with 11 games without a win and he was getting it in the neck at The Riverside but that was run was undone when he miraculously scalped the table-topping gooners 2-1 before Christmas with goals from Tuncay and Downing. This was the turnaround for the Smogies. It took time but change is coming on Teeside and it has a lot to do with the following players.

New buy Tuncay is simply a class act, a very versatile player on either flank or as a striker. I’ve seen him play for club and country and he can become a legend at Boro. He was the main man at Fenerbahce but his transition to the North East of England was probably a bit of a culture shock and his 1st 12 outings for Southgate produced blanks until he broke his duck in December against Reading before scoring in successive games against Arsenal and Derby. This is the man who scored an hatrick against Man Utd in the Champions League 3 seasons ago, how many people have ever done that, one, and that was Ronaldo at Real, if Tuncay can become half the player Ronaldo was, the team from smogland will be in cloud 9!



Alfonso Alves arrived in the mid season transfer window clearly unfit after not being in training due to a dispute with former club Heereven. Any coach will tell you it usually takes two months to get up and running fitness and sharpness wise and that is exactly what happened with the Fonz when he exploded into life with a brace against Fergies stingiest defence in the league. Southgate is expecting big things from the Boro goal machine and so do I.

Another big plus for Southgate is the improving form of Stewart Downing who at still only 23. Downing has gone onto another level this year after studying videos of Ronaldo and working on his positional play. A former McClaren favourite, his flirtations on the left at international level were not welcomed by the England fans (myself included), with the occasional boo when he has been brought on, mostly as sub. Not so anymore, he has proved this season that he could possibly be the left wing answer under the Capello era with his eye for goal and assists. He will still have some competition if Joe Cole is still favoured out wide and the emerging Ashley Young will always be a threat but it can only be good competition for Downing.

The youth set up at Middlesbrough is also to be commended churning out plenty of talent over the years. Young David Wheater has made the grade at Boro and been a revelation at this season at centerback chipping in with a few goals along the way. On Sky, Le Tiss said his goal was against Bristol City in the FA cup Beckenbauer-esque! Recently, the 21 year old was called into Fabio’s new look England with Downing. Other home-grown talents Adam Johnson, Lee Cattermole & Andy Taylor have also shown huge potential which will probably take them on from the under 21 level.

I heard from my mate Quinton Quiz who is a passionate Boro fan that Southgate regularly spends a couple of hours with fans on away days, in the battle-cruiser while the travelling supporters coaches are waiting for the traffic to die down after the game. What a top bloke, ok he might resemble the school head prefect with his grey tops and polite, well spoken manners but what a geezer, he has the bottle to sink a few bevy’s with the real fans, I doubt you would find Wenger and Avram getting the light ales in after a bore draw against Bolton.


Southgate has a big future in the game and I’m gonna take a big longshot here that the young boys from the Boro along with the skill and experience of Alves and Tuncay will be pushing for some silverware within the next 2 years under his leadership. His team have proved they can perform against the bigger teams as they have shown against Arsenal and Manchester Utd. Let’s hope he can match carrot tops League Cup and actually win something, he deserves to hold aloft a trophy to rid the ghost of Euro 96.

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  • Darren

    I confess, I was one of the people who actually said sack him last season, but recent performances have not only given the Boro faithful hope, but it it also proves that if you give a manager time they will eventually deliver, and in Southgate I believe he will.

    The performances against Arsenal and Man Utd were nothing short of breath taking, pity they had to go and ruin everything by losing to Bolton. But I guess that’s Boro all over, just when you think they are turning a corner they go back to their old ways.

    In Steve Gibson Boro have an excellent chairman too, the whole club does seems to have a sense of ‘real’, from personally answering fan mail to attending the Boro drinks after the London games.

    I was at the Fulham v Boro game earlier this season, it was a terrible game, but the Boro fans never stopped singing, mind you my nans old peoples home make more noise than Fulham fans.

    I still think there is lots of work to do, but I could see them challenging for Europe next season. But then being Boro, they’ll probably go down!

  • Jackie Emu

    Like it…an accurate artical…

    Southgate is a very likeable man…however he frustrates me because he can’t motivate the team to dispatch so called lesser teams…we struggled against derby x2 and losses at home to Reading and Bolton leave us all scratching our heads. We are capable of so much more, maybe next season will be the true time to judge, he’s gotton used to the job and got in the players he wants and has started them on the road to some exciting football all be if flittingly this season.

    Also for Southgate to take that penalty is also a mark of the man he knew the enormity and didn’t shy away like so many of the other player that day!…

    The spelling Teesside and smoggies the only flaws of the above however!

  • Jackie Emu

    i dare to have a go at spelling and spell article artical! t*t!

  • dave

    We are in a worse position that last season. Struggle to score goals, worst home record for many years, potentially lowest points total since pre Rioch. Some of the worst football for many years.

    We have not progressed and if he was not such a nice bloke he would be getting sacked.

  • Dexylongshot

    Don’t worry about that spelling nonsense, as long as i get the points across.
    Dyslexia rules ko!

  • Darren

    McClown was worse surely?

    His style of football was criminal.

    I must admit, Boro are probably the most boring team ever to grace the Premier League

  • Dexylongshot

    I think the hammers would give them a good run at the moment for most boring team in the league.

  • Tef1on

    I think Gareth has stepped up to management like a Fish to batter, Although it don’t look pretty it sure tastes good!

    He’s done extremely well at a mediocre club and i would like to see him take on a team like Villa. At least a team who he could take far in European Football. give him a few years and i think he will be in the Shortlist along with Stuart Pearce.

    Then again i think Stuart has done a great job with the U21’s and i hope he takes the ENgland First team in the coming years!

  • Peggy emu

    love it teflon…mediocre club! we’ve had more european football than you have in recent years! and to use your theme we batterered you a few weeks ago and but for steve bennett gifting you a penalty we’d have had three points how mido as well missed i’ll never know…

  • Jackie Emu peggy

    most boring team ever….darren trying to get a rise out of boro fans! poor wind up! Must do better seriously now that was criminal!

  • Darren

    erh I don’t think so, Teflon is a Gooner yes, but if you look at the author section and even read our articles you will see he is part of the UKFF team.

    What’s that? Yes me Long Blondes gig tonight, you sofa face Jackie

  • Matt Quinn

    Done a good job? They could still get relegated this year. He’s carried on the usual Boro trait of getting the team playing well against the top teams but struggling against everyone else. I put some money at the start of the season on them getting relegated. Im still hopeful of seeing a return.

  • Tef1on

    I think “Emu” is looking for a responce which would rile an argument… While i never denied that Middlesborough have done well against some good teams i think “Mediocre” is the best way to sum them up. I watched them play Sheffield United and nearly lost both games. They have about 1 good performance a month and scrape through some games… I wouldn’t say at the moment they are European Quality… Hell I couldn’t imagine them beating Sevilla 3-0, Milan 2-0, Juventus, Inter Milan 5-1… More European football… no offense… your talking rubbish!

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