SWANNY’S WORLD OF SPORT: A most desperate appointment

Gareth Southgate is a bad choice of England manager.
Gareth Southgate is a bad choice of England manager.
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So the Football Association are now appointing England managers on the basis they are nice people.

That’s quite a dramatic switch from appointing the less-than-nice Sam Allardyce, as they did less than six months ago.

England manager Gareth Southgate (right) telling Jordan Henderson to stop pretending to be Steven Gerrard.

England manager Gareth Southgate (right) telling Jordan Henderson to stop pretending to be Steven Gerrard.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the clipboard-carrying clowns running our game have no actual plan. They are determined to back a hunch and hope for the best. I wish them good luck as they will need it.

Gareth Southgate (right) is undoubtedly a nice man. His press conferences reveal measured intelligence and a calm disposition. His passion for the job still shines through though, as you’d expect for a role that now apparently carries a salary of £2 million per year.

But a four-year deal that keeps Southgate in post until after the 2020 Euros? Have the FA learnt nothing from their unwarranted loyalty towards Roy Hodgson? Hodgson should have been booted into touch after the debacle at the last World Cup, but instead was retained to oversee an even bigger disaster at the 2016 Euros.

Hodgson was a nice bloke as well, but it didn’t stop the rest of the world laughing at him and us when mighty Iceland proved more skilful and more tactically aware.

John Stones .

John Stones .

Southgate’s appointment smacks of a desperation to enjoy a hassle-free couple of years. There’s little chance of the former manager of Middlesbrough getting caught in the sort of embarrassing sting that ended Allardyce’s reign before it had properly started.

We were told Southgate had a three-match job application in the latest ridiculously easy qualifying group handed to our under-achieving, preening prima donnas.

And a lethergic 2-0 win over Malta at Wembley (a team useless Scotland beat 5-1 away from home), a dreadful 0-0 draw away to Slovenia courtesy of Joe Hart’s brilliance and a flattering 3-0 success over the worst Scotland team for decades was apparently good enough.

How easily pleased we now are. Southgate has the ability to get England to the World Cup Finals in Russia, but then so do I. Hell, even Gordon Strachan would go close to getting England through.

Unlike the FA I don’t want England to be happy just to qualify. I want them to go deep in tournaments. But right now beating the best like Germany is unlikely, toppling second tier nations like Italy and France probably won’t happen. It’s not even a certainty that England would beat Iceland should they meet again.

And that’s the issue I have with Southgate. There’s nothing on his CV to suggest he can inspire the necessary improvement or that he will stop John Stones passing to the opposition three times in every game or persude Jordan Henderson to stop believing he can play like Steven Gerrard.

Claudio Ranieri proved last season that nice guys do occasionally win, but that won’t be the case with Southgate and England so I’ll just have to console myself with the Welsh international bubble bursting.