What is Gareth Southgate of our Red Devils? Sport/Voetbalmagazine had an exclusive interview with the coach of England, his opponent in the last poulewedstrijd at the world CHAMPIONSHIPS in Russia.
“The generation of players that Belgium has, is exceptional’, says Gareth Southgate. In 2014 they were some unhappy and 2016 will be a disappointment to feel. Players like Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku will still be a while before the national team come true, but there are also players from around the thirty. For them, this world cup is the right moment.
“I know that the style that Roberto Martinez has his players fit. The duel with Belgium will be for us a great challenge.”
Southgate and Roberto Martinez prove each other to know. “We ran into each other regularly at matches and talked a lot about football. As a player and coach, we have never played each other. However, I did my Pro Licence course along with Graeme Jones, for years his assistant. When I was at Middlesbrough as manager began, was Roberto already in the box.
“What he has at Swansea and then Wigan did was extremely clever. He had Swansea playing football with emphasis on possession. They were truly the difference and success. While it was thought that that was not possible in the lower divisions. He had a structured vision that I had not yet had; at Middlesbrough, I was player of the one day to the other manager. In the years that I afterwards encountered, he was always willing to talk and his vision to share. Roberto is really a good man.”
What does the English coach of his own team? Southgate: ‘During the last world cup we came no further than the groepsronde and the european CHAMPIONSHIPS, and also ran out to be a disappointment. Then there was the team, a lack of confidence and there was a bit of a alienation of the public. That connection with the supporters has to come back, according to me, they are excited about the young players.
“If we play like I think we can do that, then we can achieve results that set for a revival and people are surprised. So they are proud to be England to follow. That is the first aim.’
‘For the tournament itself, it is easy to be a expectation to say that we have a certain round pick, but we don’t know. We must first make the groepsronde see to get through and then see what is possible. That is a better attitude than a fearful mindset where you’re wondering what can go wrong.’
The ex-manager of Middlesbrough and england U21 makes certainly no secret of which system he is in Russia wants to handle. “I think with three people in the back, because me want to be progressive in possession of the ball, but at the same time, we have defensive stability needed so that it can perform. That gives a good balance. Many players can take this deeper, while the back still stability.
“In qualification we played often with two defensive midfielders, but that keeps the flow slightly at the moment we are in possession of the ball. I think this system fits to the profile and age of the players. We have creative fullbacks, while the rear is good.”
Read the full interview with Gareth Southgate in our +zone, or in Sport/Voetbalmagazine of Wednesday 6 June.