It’s reported the England head coach’s reign is set to end following next year’s Euros in Germany. Some fans will rejoice, others will mourn – but everyone will be asking, who’s the next England head coach?
Say what you want about Gareth Southgate but there can no doubt his tenure as England head coach has been a resounding success. Of England bosses to coach more than one game, only Fabio Capello (66.7%) has a better win percentage than the former Aston Villa defender (62.4%). The major difference between the pair is it was Southgate, not the Italian, who guided England to their third-ever World Cup semi-final in Russia five years ago and was a successful penalty shootout away from claiming the European Championships in 2021.
His harshest critics proclaim his pragmatism with the talent at his disposal has cost England its first piece of silverware since 1966’s World Cup glory on home soil. In some respects, this is valid. In Southgate’s tenure as England head coach he’s presided over two, arguably three, great chances to claim an international trophy and each time England have stumbled before the final hurdle. But tarring Southgate with a pragmatic is not entirely accurate. England scored 13 goals in 5 games at last year’s World Cup in Qatar and in the knockout stage of the previous year’s Euro’s they put the ball in the back of the net 9 times in 4 games.
Southgate’s biggest fans, of which there are many, will argue his success as the England head coach is not hinged on his side’s exceptional performances, but rather on his consistent and seamless promotion of young players into senior team set up, ensuring the national team remains both presently refreshed and prepared for a future in which he, and other senior figures in the side such as Harry Kane, aren’t involved anymore.
And so, with all roads leading to the current England head coach calling time on his successful spell in football’s toughest job in Germany next European summer, who’s next in line for his throne?
Next England Head Coach: Leading candidates
1. Pep Guardiola
The complex footballing genius has reportedly already got one eye on new opportunities, why can’t one of them be the England head coach role?
Pep Guardiola is expected to leave Manchester City by 2025. Gareth Southgate’s exit is supposedly occurring a year earlier. It does sound too good to be true that the greatest manager of his generation could take over as the next England head coach and manage the nation’s best generation of talent in two decades. But hey, anything is possible right?
Close your eyes and you can just imagine Pep Guardiola’s England. At least 75% possession each game. Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka becoming the international equivalent of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, terrifying opposing defenders in 1v1 situations, Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham gallivanting across the park as free-roaming number 8’s, Harry Kane extracting every last bit of juice from his-then ageing legs to lead the line for the man he so desperately wants to play under, Trent Alexander-Arnold somehow morphed into an exceptional holding midfielder, and a hybrid back-three of Levi Colwill, Declan Rice, and Reece James.
The possibilities are endless, they’re exciting, but are they unlikely?
2. Sarina Wiegman
She’s already an England head coach. And a highly successful one at that. But, will could Sarina Wiegman make history and become the next England men’s head coach? Unlike the man she may replace, Sarina Wiegman has claimed a piece of silverware – last year’s Women’s European Championship – and led her side to the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, which they recently lost to Spain on Australian soil.
Of the England women’s head coaches to manage over five matches, she has the highest win percentage (76.9%) and has united a core group of players to play a brilliant, attacking brand of football capable of easily blowing away all before them like a hurricane. Sound’s enticing, doesn’t it?
Sarina Wiegman clearly knows what it takes to be an England head coach. Perhaps, when the doubts about her appointment begin spewing from the collective mouths of the volatile and brutal British sporting media as well as sections of the public centred around whether her skills and reputation can seamlessly transfer from the women’s game, the FA will simply point to her CV, state she is the next England head coach, and wait for the results to roll in.
3. Graham Potter
Fans may moan at this selection, given Graham Potter’s tumultuous time at Chelsea, where they played football which was equal parts beautiful, frustrating, and unfruitful as they won just 12 of his 31 games in charge.
Replacing Thomas Tuchel, who brought Champions League success to Stamford Bridge barely two years earlier, was never going to be an easy task. There were several factors, including a turbulent ownership change and the reaction it inspired in the Chelsea faithful, that were key in his failures.
But, the man who kickstarted the current iteration of Brighton were witnessing carving through Premier League opponents like they’re Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal would be perfect as the next England head coach.
Questions may remain about his capacity to deal with the intense public pressure that comes with leading England, what can’t be doubted is his managerial ability and tactical nous.
As the next England head coach, Graham Potter will be given time, and easier opposition, to implement his a complex possession-based system that requires time, a commodity he was never afforded at Chelsea, more than anything. Of all the potential replacements for Gareth Southgate as England head coach, it is perhaps Potter whose style, both tactically and personally, is closest to the current boss. Would this be a factor considered by England’s FA during the hiring process?