Southgate becomes a model for England in the age of Brexit





Amid the divisions of Brexit, manager Gareth Southgate has become a model for a new England as the national team aims to reach football's World Cup final.



 

For 264 pounds (350 dollars) you, too, could look like Gareth Southgate.
Plenty of people want to, it seems. If you live in England, the Southgate suit with waistcoat and patriotic tie is available at a high street shop near you. Sales of the waistcoat are up by some 35 per cent.
"From zero to hero" has been the headline most used to describe Southgate's journey from whipping boy to national treasure as his England side gear up for a match which could put them in the World Cup final.
Southgate, "now inseparable from his signature navy waistcoat, light-blue shirt and striped tie combination," has "emerged as an understated paragon of civility at the 2018 World Cup," the Guardian wrote.
England's unexpected success on the pitch and the impressive manner which the squad has been led by 47-year-old Southgate has drawn inevitable comparisons with the divisions caused in the country by Brexit.
According to The Sun tabloid, Prime Minister Theresa May even compared herself to Southgate in a plea to unite her fractious cabinet over Brexit plans.
"In another environment, we have a group of people who everybody said were individuals who won’t want to play together as a team – but they have come together as a team and they are doing rather well," the Sun quoted May as saying in reference to the England team.
It was just two years ago that England were humiliated by Iceland at Euro 2016 days after the shock UK referendum vote to leave the European Union. The jokes about England's ability to crash out of Europe twice in one week came thick and fast.
Now Southgate, appointed England boss amid a great deal of scepticism in view of his inexperience - and only after a scandal had led to the departure of Sam Allardyce - has affected a calm revolution. A new role model has emerged to lift English depression.
"After the bitterness and divisions of the Brexit referendum, Mr Southgate, through his dignity and humility, has shown a different face to the world: what we might even call the beginnings of a new progressive Englishness," The New Statesman political weekly wrote.
Southgate is also a social media hit, with the internet full of memes, tweets and posts praising the former defender, including a hashtag #GarethSouthgateWould.
On the field of play, England under Southgate have gone a long way to banishing their own demons by winning a penalty shoot-out at the World Cup for the first time after so many agonizing defeats.
Southgate himself was for so long defined by his own penalty trauma, when his spot kick in the Euro 96 semi-final against Germany was saved by Andreas Koepke.
The lessons he learned from that helped England overcome Colombia in the last 16. With every move, from team selection, to tactics, to the way he handles the media - so long the bane of England managers - Southgate has shown a calm, single-minded resolution.
Nice guys, it seems, can make successful football managers.
"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 credit to him."
Southgate has shown there are many styles of leadership.
"I'm not one of the lads," he told FIFA TV. "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."
Southgate will continue to follow his own path, which in the immediate term could take him to Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium for the World Cup final on July 15 if his England can beat Croatia on Wednesday.
Wearing waistcoat and tie, of course.


Monday, July 9th 2018
By Barry Whelan
           


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