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Golden Generation 2.0: Does Gareth Southgate Have What It Takes To Get The Best Out Of England’s Current Squad?

by Ozymandias
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Two World Wars and one World Cup, England.

Be it club football or national football, you can’t find fans more passionate about their team than the supporters of the Three Lions. Regardless of whether the England squad is brimming with quality or not, the fans always go to the very extreme to show their support.

As the saying goes, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Their very enthusiastic support comes with a price. Should the England squad fail to live up to expectations, which far more often than not has been the case, they would really feel the frustrations of their supporters.

england fans at euros

The same scenario is currently playing out at the Euro 2024 tournament. Weeks leading up to the tournament, many branded the Three Lions as strong favourites taking into consideration their immense squad depth. The current England team is so stacked that the likes of Fikayo Tomori, Harvey Elliot, Curtis Jones, and James Madison could not make the cut.

However, during this tournament so far, England has not lived up to expectations. Not even by a milestone. They have qualified for the round-of-16 as group leaders but did so in the most drab manner possible. In a group that includes Denmark, Slovenia, and Serbia, the Three Lions only won one match and drew the other two. Plus, they only scored a miserly two goals across these three matches.

You would be a very brave person to still consider England as one of the favourites to win the Euro 2024 given their abysmal display in the group stages.

In the past, when criticising the performance of the England squad you had full justification for calling out a player or two because they simply did not deliver on the pitch. However, this time around, when calling out the performance of the squad, a lot of the blame has to go to the current manager, Gareth Southgate rather than the players.

The squad the 53-year-old handpicked for this tournament includes Harry Kane, the current Golden Boot winner, Phil Foden, the current Premier League Player of the Season, Jude Bellingham, one of the most in-form midfielders in the world and Ballon d’Or favorite, and Bukayo Saka, one of the current top creators in Europe.

foden and bellingham

Each of the four players listed started all of England’s three group matches. Ironically, so far in this tournament, the England team has been void of creativity and has only a paltry 2 goals to show for their effort. The sole reason for this disconnect is because of Gareth Southgate’s management style.

Critics argue that his rigid tactics and team selection have resulted in a lack of creativity and flair, leading to underwhelming performances and disappointing results. Southgate’s insistence on sticking with his trusted players, despite their poor form, has also raised eyebrows, with many calling for the inclusion of more dynamic and attacking players.

Furthermore, Southgate’s in-game management has been questioned, with some pointing to his slow reactions to opposition changes and his failure to make decisive substitutions. His reliance on a narrow and defensive formation has also been criticized, as it has often left England’s talented attacking players isolated and ineffective. 

The perceived lack of passion and urgency in England’s performances has also been attributed to Southgate’s calm and composed demeanor, which some see as a weakness rather than a strength. As the tournament progresses, the pressure is mounting on Southgate to adopt a more adventurous approach and unlock the full potential of his talented squad.

kane and bellingham

It has to be mentioned that there are those who believe Gareth Southgate is not the problem but rather it runs deeper. Granted, the Three Lions are currently playing lackluster football under his management, however, the team’s problems go back decades, even before he was in charge.

For instance, England has not won any major trophy since 1966. That’s a whopping 6 decades ago. Also, their golden generation, which consisted of football royalty like David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and the like could not win a trophy. 

All things considered, England’s problems started long before Gareth Southgate’s reign. Hence you can see reason with those who believe he isn’t totally to blame for the team’s uninspiring current run of form. 

There are also those who believe the former Middlesbrough manager deserves to be praised based on what he has achieved with the England squad. He led the Three Lions to the World Cup semi-final in 2018 and the final of the Euros back in 2021. On both of these occasions, England lost to their opponents by the slimmest of margins.

Leading the Three Lions to the World Cup semi-final and Euros final, Southgate has achieved considerably more than his predecessors if you go back decades.

Should The Three Lions Stick With Southgate Or Look For A New Manager?

While Gareth Southgate’s tactics have been scrutinized and his ability to unlock the full potential of this talented England squad has been questioned, it’s important to maintain perspective and acknowledge the historical context of the team’s struggles. 


Despite the criticism, Southgate’s achievements in leading the team to a World Cup semi-final and Euro final are significant and warrant faith in his abilities. Rather than placing sole blame on Southgate, the English football hierarchy and fans must also reflect on the deeper structural issues that have hindered success for decades. 

By doing so, they can work together to create an environment that allows Southgate and his talented squad to thrive. With patience, trust, and a willingness to learn from past mistakes, England can finally break their trophy drought and unlock the true potential of this gifted generation.


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