Gareth Southgate has indicated that his new England contract should be a formality as he looked forward to a seismic 12-month period and beyond.
Southgate has been focused on Euro 2020 and qualification for the World Cup, which kicks off in Qatar on 21 November next year – confirming the latter on Monday with a 10-0 away drubbing of San Marino. He will now move to agree an extension to his deal that expires after the World Cup with the Football Association’s technical director, John McDermott, and the chief executive, Mark Bullingham, and has given the clearest indication yet that there will be no problems. The contract will run until Euro 2024 in Germany and he stands to double his money to around £6m a year.
“When you work with staff like I work with and with a group of players who are as receptive and have the talent that we have, then that’s clearly very enjoyable,” Southgate said.
“There’s been no other reason for not sitting down [for contract talks] other than the fact that we felt it was right to concentrate on the European Championship and right to get this qualification done. Now it’s an appropriate time to be able to sit with John and Mark Bullingham and go through everything but I’m not expecting for that to be complicated at all.”
The first winter World Cup promises a season like no other with Southgate restricted to only one international window before it begins – between 19 and 27 September when two Nations League ties are scheduled. Before that there is the break in March when England will arrange two friendlies and one more in June to play four Nations League games. The Premier League season will pause after the weekend of 12-13 November, most likely leaving no time for a warmup fixture before the World Cup.
To Southgate adaptability will be everything and he highlighted the experience of the Euros last summer when a host of his players joined up late – some of them just one week before the opening tie – due to their involvement in European club finals. It had been a similar story before the Nations League finals in June 2019.
“I would think it’s really unlikely that teams are going to be able to play a friendly [before the World Cup],” Southgate said. “If you think about the Premier League teams playing on a Saturday or Sunday [on 12-13 November], then you’d need three or four days before you’d play.
“You normally have to be in the country five days ahead of a major tournament anyway so it might depend on which group we are drawn in and whether you are early in the tournament or a little bit later. It’s going to be the same for everybody and it’s going to be the teams that adapt best. We’ve got some experience of that with the Nations League and the European Championship where we had so many players involved in the Champions League finals.”
It has been a remarkable year for Southgate and his players, which began in late March with the 5-0 behind-closed-doors win over San Marino at Wembley in the opening World Cup qualifier. They have crammed in a full 10-game qualifying campaign plus the Euros finals, which ended in the penalty shoot-out loss to Italy in the final. The statistics for 2021 show that England have amassed a record number of wins (15), goals (52) and clean sheets (14).
“We’ve had more matches than ever before, I think,” Southgate said. “So for everybody that’s been challenging. The players have dealt with it brilliantly. They’ve kept that freshness and focus when they come with England and we’ve been able to create the environment where they can put things that are going on outside the England camps to one side and really flourish. I’m very, very proud of what they’ve done.”