The list of names being linked with the managerial role at Manchester United is growing larger by the day and the latest to be added into the mix is Gareth Southgate.
Manchester United are in a delicate position and, after all three of Alex Ferguson’s successors have failed to emulate the legendary manager’s previous achievements, the importance of United’s next appointment cannot be underestimated.
The hierarchy at United seem to have identified Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino as their prime target and, despite his lack of silverware with Spurs, there is justification behind the interest. He’s young, tactically astute and has plenty of experience managing in the Premier League at a top club.
That last point is absolutely crucial. Whilst Southgate’s coaching prowess is not up for debate, his only experience managing in the top flight was at Middlesbrough – whom he ended up guiding to relegation in 2009.
United will also want to avoid moving down their list of candidates too quickly. It’s common knowledge that Pochettino is their number one target and, with big names such as Zinedine Zidane and
Southgate linked with #MUFC. Woodward will be salivating at the prospective waistcoat partnership with Marks & Spencer
— Jonathan Shræger (@JonathanShrager) January 13, 2019
As for Southgate, now is not the time to bring his tenure with England to an end. Whilst the Three Lions’ journey to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup was somewhat fortunate, there is a sense that the tournament was the start of something much bigger.
England couldn’t really be in a stronger position right now. They have the required talent at their disposal to continue developing and the current squad has gelled together expertly – thanks in large part to Southgate’s impressive man management.
He’s installed the sort of club-like mentality that has been sorely lacking in recent years and, as the older generation are slowly making way for exciting talents such as Jadon Sancho and James Maddison, it’s obvious that Southgate’s England project is starting to generate some real momentum.
He was recently awarded with a fresh contract which lasts until the 2022 World Cup and that would be the most natural and sensible time to review his future options.
It’s not as if this will be Southgate’s one and only opportunity to take over at an elite club either. If he achieves further success with England then his stock is only going to rise and his options are likely to broaden.
Perhaps Southgate will ultimately end up in the hot seat at United in the distant future. But now is far from the right time – both for United and for the man himself.