I’m still not a fan of Southgate, but if England win Euro 2024, just get on and make him Sir Gareth

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Lifted from Paint Your Wagon … “How do we get there, I don’t know, how did we get there, I don’t care...”

But England are in the last four for the third time in the past four major international competitions.

While I’ve not held back on my criticism of Gareth Southgate in the Euros, I did suggest that we might actually get this far, but as a caveat did state that it might be by more luck than judgment.

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In our national football fans’ DNA, it’s almost a prerequisite that England will continue to frustrate and disappoint their loyal group of supporters.

Gareth Southgate acknowledges the fans after victory v Switzerland (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)Gareth Southgate acknowledges the fans after victory v Switzerland (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Gareth Southgate acknowledges the fans after victory v Switzerland (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Aside from collecting the Esso World Cup coins I don’t remember the 1970 Mexico tournament, so my frustration and disappointment started in earnest in April 1972, when West Germany humbled England 3-1 at Wembley in the first leg of the European Championship quarter-finals, (the second leg was a 0-0 bore draw in West Berlin), and so it began.

I can really think of only a handful of games, it’s probably barely into double figures, where England have had us all on the edge of our seats – that said I’m probably not the person to ask, because between February 1977 and June 2007, I watched England in the flesh, six times, five at Wembley and once in Germany, and never saw them score, let alone win.

It was only John Terry’s header at the new Wembley 30 years on from my first visit to the Twin Towers that finally broke my duck.

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With England’s apparent dire showing in the group stage in this tournament, comparisons were made in certain quarters with the apparent slow starts in the 66, 86 and 90 World Cups and Euro 96.

With the greatest respect to all my fellow armchair pundits, anyone who puts Southgate in the same bracket at Sir Alf Ramsey, Sir Bobby Robson and even Terry Venables is delusional.

Taking Sir Alf out of the equation – as he might have won in 1966 but then only took arguably the greatest ever England squad in Mexico to a quarter final defeat at the hands of the Germans – but if either Robson or Venables had had the opportunity to work with this group of players England would have been virtually unstoppable against the current levels of opposition in the past five years.

But it is what it is, regardless of the detractors, the record books don’t lie, Southgate is the most successful England boss in knockout football since Sir Alf.

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We all know he’s going, looking at his face in the darker moments of the England campaign, so does he.

I’ve never been a fan, I think Big Sam was disgracefully treated and the wokerati at the FA bent over backwards and ticked all the boxes to get their preferred candidate in post.

But needs must, if he were to go on and win it, something I alluded to after the Slovenia debacle, what the heck, give him the knighthood, the keys to the city of London whatever. Football finally needs to come home, whatever the circumstances.

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