Is Gareth Southgate the best England manager since Bobby Robson?

I’m beginning to think so.

Like most England fans I now look forward to games like the Czech Republic tonight, rather than dread them.

Southgate has built a good team off the pitch at St. George’s Park and it’s working so well that the German Football Federation recently came to visit to find out what they are doing wrong.

Southgate is certainly different. Really different.

He doesn’t have an ego like Hoddle, he’s not a motor-mouth like Taylor, not a cheerleader like Keegan, not a groupie like Sven, not a bully like Capello and not a spiv like Venables.

Gareth is a different animal and it took us all a while to realise that the job suits him. He’s improved England and, I now realise, England has improved him.

Speaking succinctly to the media yesterday, Southgate said: “I can’t wait for clubs to pick players 50 or 100 times, that’s not the landscape we’re operating in.

“But what we’ve seen, in different positions, is players that we think are good enough, and so we’ll pick them, we’ll play them. I’ve got no hesitation, Callum’s fitted in, he looks every inch an England international in training and I wouldn’t hesitate to start him in any of the games.

“He doesn’t look phased by it at all.  I think that’s young people today, they have great belief, they have confidence in their ability It’s also credit to the rest of the group because they make the players feel settled and calm and part of it.

“But of course he’s training with top players anyway, and he knows Jadon from the junior teams, and he knows a couple of the other lads as well. The beauty of St. George’s Park is that players don’t feel it’s a huge shift to come and work with the senior team.”

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