Football: David James, Teddy Sheringham back Gareth Southgate to be England's permanent manager

Former England players James, Sheringham back Southgate to manage national team

England Masters goalkeeper David James, striker Teddy Sheringham, Masters Football Asia CEO Steve Black, Germany's Dietmar Hamann and Karl-Heinz Riedle having a light moment.
England Masters goalkeeper David James, striker Teddy Sheringham, Masters Football Asia CEO Steve Black, Germany's Dietmar Hamann and Karl-Heinz Riedle having a light moment. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Former England footballers David James and Teddy Sheringham believe interim manager Gareth Southgate is the ideal candidate to manage the Three Lions on a permanent basis.

Southgate, a former England defender who previously featured for Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, was put in charge for four matches after his predecessor Sam Allardyce was sacked in September.

Said James, the former Liverpool and Manchester City goalkeeper: "He ticks the English box, which a lot of fans have been asking for. He's a former national player who has played at the highest level for England in major tournaments, and he's managed the Under-21 team at the national level. More importantly, he's played in the Premier League, so he understands the pressures of English players who play in the Premier League environment."

Former Tottenham and Manchester United striker Sheringham concurred, adding: "He did very well with the Under-21s as well - he got them playing in a nice, proper manner that can get them competing at a good level, so I like his philosophy on how to play the game."

The duo were speaking on the sidelines of the pre-match press conference for Saturday's Battle of Europe presented by Masters Football Asia. They will feature for the England Masters against the Germany Masters.

Asked about England's poor form in recent years, James, 46, chuckled before reminding reporters that England have not won a major tournament since lifting the World Cup in 1966.

"I think you mean decades," he said. "I'm a believer that you can't have the strongest domestic league in the world and the best national football team.

"The Premier League is a world-wide brand, we attract world stars from all the different countries possible and as a result I think that deteriorates from the capabilities of our national side.

"So if we want to have a better national side, we have to have a worse domestic league."

Another manager who has been in the spotlight in recent days is United manager Jose Mourinho, who has come under fire after appearing to publicly question the commitment of defenders Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling.

But Sheringham, who was in charge of League Two side Stevenage for eight months, still believes that the Portuguese - who has won league titles with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, and two Champions League trophies (Porto and Inter) - remains the best man for the job.

"Alex Ferguson had his fender on everything that was going on in Manchester not just in the football club, but in Manchester he knew what his players did and what they were up to," said Sheringham, referring to the former United manager who led the Red Devils to 13 Premier League titles. "That's all part of being a football manager and understanding the characters of your players, and it takes a long while to do that... it has not been easy for the managers who have been there, especially when Sir Alex has been breathing down your neck.

"But if anyone's going to do it, then Jose's going to do it."

Ferguson remains an ambassador at the club he managed for 26 years.

While Saturday's game is a friendly, former Germany star Karl-Heinz Riedle insisted that the Germany Masters are fired up for the match.

Said the 51-year-old, who was part of the 1990 squad that won the World Cup: "When it comes to a game against England, it's always a motivation for all the German players to win because England is a big footballing nation. It'll be one of the best games of the season for every German."

Sheringham, 50, added: "It's a friendly rivalry. We've been out playing ball with Karl-Heinz Riedle and now we're friendly. It doesn't need to be over the top.

"Come Saturday, when there are goals there to be won and you're playing football, we won't be moving as quick as we did 20 years ago but we'll still try and be competitive and do it how it should be done."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Interim boss gets support'. Subscribe