- England manager Gareth Southgate's unique style widely appreciated back home
- Southgate's approach is credited for getting the best out of the Three Lions
- #GarethSouthgateWould hashtag has gone viral during England's time at Russia 2018
By Laure James with England
He is the waistcoat-wearing England manager whose mild-mannered demeanour has inspired a Twitter movement. Gareth Southgate wanted to reconnect his country with its national team, inspire younger generations by allowing his players’ personalities to shine, and develop a brand of football the nation could be proud of.
While the Three Lions continue to make history during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ - they had never won a World Cup penalty shoot-out before Tuesday, while the win over Panama was their biggest ever in this competition - it is Southgate’s understated, pleasant nature that is proving equally important in winning hearts.
The hashtag #GarethSouthgateWould has flooded Twitter, with a brilliant mix of dry British humour and figurative examples of Southgate’s selfless, and at times self-deprecating approach. As for his attire, the mantra from London’s tailoring quarter, Savile Row, is to ‘be more Southgate’, as waistcoat sales soar. Yet, while fans are amusing themselves with images of their national coach nursing sick bees back to health or lending his charger when he is down to 12 per cent battery, the team continues to benefit from the family environment he has created.
“He's a very genuine guy,” England defender John Stones said. “There is a fine line, where a manager has got to have his football brain in gear, talk about football and know when we should relax. He balances that as well as anyone I've seen. That's a credit to him.
“He's brought in a lot of new ideas in the two years since he came in,” Stones continued. “We're seeing the results of those, the togetherness of the team, the spirit, the hunger. The more time we're together on the training pitch, we're only going to get stronger. It takes time, but he's a great manager and it's great to be able to work with him.”
Speaking on the show produced by England's Football Association called Lions’ Den, Kyle Walker lauded Southgate's approachable disposition: “It is why he is getting the best out of us players because he's experienced all this before. You know, he's lived what we're living now, but he's also very approachable, where you can go and speak to him. He joins in with the banter, so we're one big family here now.”
While some may find it difficult to imagine Southgate giving anyone the hairdryer treatment, discipline where necessary is an essential part of any elite coach’s arsenal. As a player, he had a single-mindedness and an enormous will to succeed. As a manager, he told FIFA TV he communicates his messages in a measured way.
“I’m not one of the lads,” Southgate explained. “I think they know there’s a line and where the expectations are, but I don’t think you have to be like that 24 hours a day and I don’t think you have to be that way to get your point across. I think there are lots of different styles of leadership and moments to show different types of leadership, and different styles of communication. You’re always looking to have as much impact as you can, but I guess I am happy for others to talk about that rather than me.”