REG E DWIGHT, our man on the terraces with the star-shaped glasses and a copy of When Saturday Comes tucked under his arm, reports on the consequences of our exit from Europe. Plus the latest Selhurst Park transfer news, including a shock £31m bid for Belgian striker
It will be a case of a Palace player succeeding a Croydon man if it comes to pass, as many believe that Southgate, the successful England under-20s coach, is lined up to succeed Roy Hodgson after the latter’s prompt resignation last night following the abject 2-1 defeat to Iceland in Nice in the last 16 stage of the European championships.
The veteran Hodgson’s contract was up for renewal after the championships in any case, and as he had been stating as a mantra before the game, “This is a results business”. And England’s results under Hodgson in major tournaments had been underwhelming. Despite going unbeaten through 10 qualifying games, come Euro 2016, England produced lacklustre and uninspired performances, with draws against Russia and Slovakia particularly demoralising.
Last night, it was like watching Iceland against Poundland, as a team drawn from an island in the north Atlantic with a population of less than Croydon’s and coached by a part-time dentist demonstrated greater skill, organisation and desire than Hodgson’s seemingly random selection of Premier League millionaires.
England have their first World Cup qualifier against Slovakia in early September, so the FA needs to appoint a new manager and coaching staff more quickly than the Conservative Party is going about finding the country a new Prime Minister.
Southgate fits the bill in a number of ways, especially because he oversaw England’s win of the prestigious Toulon Tournament earlier this summer, the first time the English junior side has triumphed at the annual event since 1994. His knowledge of England’s young talents could be particularly useful if he wants to rebuild the demoralised senior squad.
The 45-year-old former Middlesbrough manager and England international defender has all the right UEFA coaching badges, has worked at the FA as their head of elite development, alongside Sir Trevor Brooking, he doesn’t swear in public too often and he appears comfortable in a suit and tie. There would be no messy compensation payments to arrange with former employers, either. Southgate’s coaching of penalty-taking might need some work, though.Others in the betting for the England job include Palace’s current manager, Alan Pardew, whose appointment to England’s “impossible job” would present the Selhurst Park club with the dilemma of having to find a replacement even more quickly than the FA, with the Premier League season just a few weeks away.
Palace’s league form from last December was so bad that Pardew has fallen out of favour with many Eagles fans, despite leading the club to the FA Cup final.
The Palace manager has been in France in the past fortnight, on a scouting mission to strengthen his squad, with the club having a shock £31.5 million bid accepted by Marseille for highly rated striker Michy Batshuayi.
Unlike England, the 22-year-old Belgian international remains in the Euro 2016 tournament, where he has looked lively in the brief appearances he has been given. L’Equipe, the French sports daily, reported yesterday that while his club accepted the offer quickly, the player has not yet made any decision. He may be hoping for offers from other clubs.
Palace are also reported to be in the bidding for a couple of England international wing backs, including Tottenham’s Ryan Mason and Andros Townsend, after having triggered the latter player’s transfer release clause with his club, Newcastle, following their relegation to the Championship.
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