Football: England's new manager Gareth Southgate says Rooney's armband is safe

England manager Gareth Southgate, whose four-year deal was confirmed on Wednesday, says his side have the potential to win the European Championship in 2020. Southgate made 57 appearances in England colours.
England manager Gareth Southgate, whose four-year deal was confirmed on Wednesday, says his side have the potential to win the European Championship in 2020. Southgate made 57 appearances in England colours.PHOTO: REUTERS

Emphasis on more leaders, high-press tactics, but no break clause in his contract

LONDON • New England manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed that Wayne Rooney will remain the national captain and also revealed there has been no break clause inserted into his four-year contract.

The 46-year-old was finally confirmed as the new permanent England manager on Wednesday and signed a deal worth £1.5 million (S$2.7 million) per year that will take him through to the end of the European Championship in 2020.

Southgate, who was at Wembley yesterday to face the media for the first time since his appointment, was immediately pressed on Rooney and the captaincy and confirmed the Manchester United forward will retain the armband.

The country's leading scorer (53 goals) has endured an indifferent season on the field and during the last international break was embroiled in controversy when pictures emerged of him looking drunk and socialising with wedding guests at the team hotel.

Southgate said: "Wayne Rooney is the England captain, I said that at the beginning of the interim period.

"It is important for me that we develop more leaders. If we are going to be successful in the next few years, developing leadership and resilience is one of the key areas.

PURSUING THE FACTS

The first thing to say is the bravery of the players that have come forward (in the child abuse scandal) is exceptional. The stories are heartbreaking.

GARETH SOUTHGATE, who is pushing for a full investigation over the next few weeks.

SHARED RESPONSIBILITY

I don't think laying down the law is necessary. I like to treat players as adults. There needs to be trust between the coach and the players.

'SOUTHGATE, on the balance between team guidelines and allowing players to take the initiative in off-field behaviour.

"Wayne has played an important role for England up to this point and I am sure he can continue to do that in the future but we also have to develop others."

Southgate also revealed that there is no break clause in his contract that would allow the Football Association (FA) to jettison him should England disappoint at the World Cup in Russia in 2018.

"There is no break clause. I think it is important that, obviously, I want to be successful in this role in the long run," he said.

"I am taking over at a point where our last two tournaments haven't been as successful as we would have liked.

"But it is also important not to look just at short-term results but what we are trying to achieve over the longer term, both at senior level and the junior teams."

Several other England players were reported to have gone out on the same evening as Rooney's late night at the team hotel, prompting a review of player down-time by the FA.

But Southgate added that he did not think he would need to remind his players about their off-pitch responsibilities.

"I don't think laying down the law is necessary," he said.

"I like to treat players as adults. There needs to be trust between the coach and the players.

"But there also needs to be clear guidelines. The players also need to take leadership on that. If we're going to have a top team, then I want them involved in that."

On England's style of play on the pitch, the new manager explained that he wants his team to have a lot of possession, at the same time posing a goal threat. He added that a high-pressing game is the "sort of mentality" fans would like to see.

Southgate was also asked about the ongoing child abuse scandal that has embroiled English football, to which he said: "The first thing to say is the bravery of the players that have come forward is exceptional. The stories are heartbreaking.

"The important thing over the next few weeks is we still investigate what's happened."

It is now 20 years since England last reached a major semi-final, but FA chief executive Martin Glenn predicted England will do "very well" at the next World Cup in Russia.

"He's a thinker, he's a doer," Glenn said of Southgate.

"Look at the way he's developed and nurtured nine of the current squad, who have come directly through the Under-21s.

"He's very articulate. Gareth has been a captain at every club he's played at so that says something. He's a strong and proven leader."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2016, with the headline 'Rooney armband safe: Southgate'. Print Edition | Subscribe