Football Association chair Debbie Hewitt has strongly backed Gareth Southgate, calling him the “most successful England manager we’ve had for 55 years”.
The former defender, who led the side to the Euro 2020 final and the last four of the 2018 World Cup, is under some pressure after failing to win any of their four Nations League matches, culminating in a 4-0 defeat to Hungary - their worst at home in 94 years.
Southgate received a significant backlash on social media, with just five months to go until the Qatar World Cup and one more international break to come before the tournament starts.
UEFA Nations League
Four arrests at England game as police officer left unconscious
15/06/2022 AT 08:35
But speaking to journalists, Hewitt - a former chief executive at the RAC who also has involvement with brands like Visa - said she has rarely worked with someone as impressive as Southgate.
“My personal opinion on Gareth is that he is, by the facts on the pitch, the most successful England manager we’ve had for 55 years,” said Hewitt, who took over as FA chair in January.
“The bit people don’t see as much is the Gareth at camp and the culture he’s created.
“Certainly prior to Gareth being the manager of England, there was not the pride of wearing the England shirt. There were the club rivalries we’d read about. The players not getting on. He’s changed that beyond recognition and I’ve seen that first hand.
I’d also say that I don’t just work in football, I work in business and I’ve worked with a lot of chief executives and Gareth’s skills — his high IQ and high EQ — would make him a chief exec in any sphere.
“That resilience and accountability (are) the two qualities I admire most. There are no slopey shoulders, he doesn’t huff, he’s resilient and that’s what you want in an England manager.”
At the back end of last year, Southgate signed a contract extension until the end of Euro 2024, and Hewitt has backed that decision.
“The fact that there’s been a stumble does not make us automatically say ‘should we have given him a contract?’ It is a red herring,” she said.
“We have confidence in Gareth for all the reasons I described and I think that’s the important thing. And it’s particularly important going into the biggest tournament.”
UEFA Nations League
Kane backs Southgate as England boss 'without question' after shock defeat
14/06/2022 AT 21:44
UEFA Nations League
England thumped by Hungary as poor run of form continues
14/06/2022 AT 17:49