Southgate’s new England contract suits all parties – despite his fury at leaks

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Gareth Southgate claims his England stars couldn't care less who the manager of the national team is.

Considering those same stars see club bosses come and go on a regular basis, then perhaps not.

But what the squad should care about is knowing what Southgate's future intentions are long before next winter's World Cup.

And it looks like the answer is about to be provided, with Southgate poised to sign a contract extension keeping him in the post until 2024.

England might be on the cusp of booking their place at Qatar 2020 ahead of Monday's final qualification game in San Marino.

But the best news of all will be that Southgate is prepared to continue in one of the most demanding roles in world sport.

If FA chief executive Mark Bullingham has persuaded Southgate to remain in charge beyond the World Cup, then he deserves some credit.

Southgate had been keen to park talks until England's place at Qatar was secured – and is said to be furious that news of his new deal has been leaked to the media.

But he needn't be, because it is one of the best things that could have happened to a squad of players approaching one of the biggest 12 months of their professional lives.

Southgate's decision is his to make, because he's earned that right and it should be respected.

The growing feeling was that he viewed the next World Cup as his last shot at glory and would stand down following the tournament.

Who could have blamed him? He's transformed the results, image and attitude of the national team since taking charge of a shambolic set-up in 2016 and given us a side to be proud of.

The FA are set to double his wages, but it has never been about the money for Southgate. That will never be his motivation.

Despite his success in leading England to a World Cup semi final and the Euros final this summer, the demands of the role have taken an inevitable toll on Southgate, who admits to being emotionally drained following a tournament.

Six years is a long time to spend in one of the most pressurised roles imaginable and win, lose or draw, the next World Cup did feel like an appropriate and natural time for Southgate to stand down.

But success can be a powerful drug and Southgate must be hooked. Yet the biggest high must now belong to Bullingham.

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It's impossible to imagine the FA going back to having a foreign boss again when Southgate does call time on the England job, but a quick glance at the pool of possible candidates to replace him is shallow indeed.

Frank Lampard was mentioned not too long ago, but look what happened to him? So was Eddie Howe, who has just returned from the wilderness to start conducting the circus that is Newcastle United.

All we know is that one day, Southgate's shoes will be huge ones to fill.

But for the time being, Bullingham can sit back and light a fat cigar, safe in he knowledge he doesn't have to find a solution to this problem for quite a while.

  • Gareth Southgate
  • England Football Team

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