Is Gareth Southgate England’s Best Choice for Euro 2020? (Part 1)

For the record, the answer is yes… If that’s all you were looking for, please feel free to go about your business full of optimism for our chances in next year’s tournament!

But if not, hi! Now that I’ve finished writing my 11 part Bolton Wanderers Save, I thought it’d be a fun change of pace to use football manager to find out whether or not Gareth Southgate is actually the best choice to lead the 3 lions through Euro 2020 (And yes, I’m going to be ignoring reality and continuing to call it that).

At the time of writing (~4PM on 12th October 2020), (Using odds from Paddy Power and/or William Hill) has Burnley’s Sean Dyche as the favourite for the next England manager, followed by 32 other potential managers. Over this 5 part series, I’m going to test all of them, followed by Gareth himself, to see if we’ve got the right man for Euro 2020.

I’ll be changing the England manager in the FM20 Editor, then holidaying for a year until Euro 2020. Obviously it’s not a perfect comparison as each England team is going to have a different group in the tournament and different form and injury problems to contend with, but we’ll just have to make do.

I’ll then be ranking the potential managers in a league table at the end so that we can see a clear winner. Each win in Euro 2020 will be worth 3 points (Including extra time or penalty shootout wins), each draw will be worth 1 point and losses will be worth nowt. Winning the Euros will be worth an extra 5 points and I may hand out up to 3 bonus points if any of the managers show real style, initiative or out-of-the-box thinking, like playing a 2-2-6 or showing faith in a League One striker and having it pay off. If points can’t decide it, goal difference will. If goal difference doesn’t, goals scored will. If goals scored doesn’t, then God help us all.

We’ve got a lot to get through, so I’m going to leap right into the first simulation. Starting with the joint longest odds on the list is current Salford City manager Paul Scholes.

You can understand why Paul Scholes is the last on the list – Inexperienced as a manager and rarely seen in the public eye since his retirement, he only really pops up in the news if he’s taking temporary charge of a lower league North-West club or breaching lockdown rules.

His England side was surprisingly good. After a worrying start against an admittedly good side, losing 0-1 to Belgium, they overcame Bosnia & Herzegovina and demolished the Auld enemy to top Group D. This earned them a 2nd round match against another old enemy in Portugal and it wasn’t pretty. An early Harry Kane goal was cancelled out by goals from Bernardo Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo either side of the break, but then when Kane was given the chance to level the scores from the penalty spot in the 95th minute, he was unable to beat the keeper.

It’s a pretty unlucky exit, given the strength of the teams they faced and the circumstances that sent them home, but it’s still an exit. I’ll give Scholes 1 bonus point for thumping a rival team, but other than that I thought he was very underwhelming. He picked Phil Foden every game, but I don’t think that counts as a left-field choice anymore.

I’ve had to recreate Harry Redknapp from FM18 as he isn’t in the current database. He was actually my pick to get the job after Fabio Capello finally left in 2012. Let’s face it, we could’ve used a laugh at that point and Redknapp would’ve provided.

‘Arry ‘ad a really good group stage. He didn’t manage to beat Scotland like Paul Scholes did, but his England side did hammer Bosnia & Herzegovina and Slovakia, finishing top of the group without conceding a single goal using his solid 4-4-2. But then came the 2nd round and Germany. In a fairly even game, 1-0 Germany was probably just about the right scoreline. England didn’t disgrace themselves, but it wasn’t a tournament to remember either.

Another recreation, this time from FM19, Jamie Carragher is a bit of a weird shout given his lack of any kind of experience whatsoever as a coach.

I’d love to say he proved everyone wrong, but he was abysmal. In terms of results, anyway. His team’s performances were good and I’d go as far as to say that he deserved to win all 3 matches, but they only picked up a single point in the group stage. Guessing he’ll stick to punditry for now.

I had to go all the way back to FM13 to recreate this one – The FM scouts gave up on him long ago. Despite only having had 3 months experience (Which involved a relegation) since his retirement 15 years ago, Alan Shearer’s actually more likely than old ‘Arry for some reason.

In a stunning turn of events though, he’s actually the first manager we’ve covered that’s gone and won the Euros! Shearer’s men put on an absolute clinic, sweeping Group D aside with 7 points before seeing off Germany, North Macedonia and Turkey en route to a final against Italy.

There was nothing flashy from what I can tell – He stuck rigidly to a simple 4-4-2 system and the 1 left-field squad member he brought (Striker Kemar Roofe) was unused throughout, so he gets no style or ingenuity points from me, but still… Take a bow, Alan.

Up next is old Pards. I know he’s a bit of a figure of ridicule nowadays but I am a bit surprised that a manager with his experience finds himself at such long odds.

Oof and he very nearly made himself the man to beat. Up until the final, Pardew’s men had won every single game, most of them convincingly! But then they reached the final against Portugal and it went south pretty fast as they crashed out 0-3. The manager stuck with a very standard 4-2-3-1, but he did play open, attacking, attractive football and he also got the big win over the Scots, so I’ll give him 2 bonus points.

I’m personally really happy to see Sol Campbell getting back into football in the last few years. He’s said some weird shit since retiring in 2011, but he’s an English footballing icon. I always enjoy seeing ex-England players getting managerial jobs, so it’s great that he’s working his way up the leagues.

Probably a bit too soon for the England job though, isn’t it? The group stage went well – 7 points, although they weren’t as comfortable scorelines as the likes of Pardew, Shearer, Redknapp and Scholes were getting. Then Austria were seen off in the 2nd round, but then France kicked the nation right in our collective face. 4-0 is an absolute embarrassment.

What I will say in Sol’s defence though is this: He leaned hard into an intriguing new system, with 3 centre backs, 2 wing backs and a holding midfielder, 2 central midfielders and 2 strikers. He played Reece James and Ross Barkley as a midfield partnership twice and that’s kooky enough to get a bonus point out of me. Also, over the course of the Norway and Austria matches, Sol lost captain Kane, vice captain Henderson, Barkley and Lallana to injury. That’s pretty brutal in terms of midfielders and experienced heads.

Rio Ferdinand’s a bit of a weird name to be on this list at all, never mind at shorter odds than the rest we’ve covered so far. He’s done a fair bit of punditry work and… I think some boxing… Since retirement, but he’s had no coaching experience that I’m aware of.

His England squad included no shock picks and he had an extremely average tournament, starting with wins against Sweden and Switzerland, then drawing with Scotland and losing on penalties to Ireland in the 2nd round. They were dominant enough in each match apart from the one against the Swiss, but even so, I suspect that even Jamie Carragher’s campaign would be remembered more fondly than this.

So that’s 7 managers down, 27 more to go. We’re starting to see a pattern aren’t we – I think 7 is going to be the score that the vast majority of managers pick up. It means they had an unbeaten group stage and went out in the first knockout round, which seems to be as good a job as most of these can do. Alan Shearer’s set a hell of a high bar to top for these other candidates though, and who thought we’d ever be saying that about a managerial position? Jamie Carragher, conversely, has all but guaranteed himself the dead last position.

See you next time.

Author: DOgames

Amateur Game Designer, Writer, Artist, Musician

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