Former Middlesbrough manager and England centre back Gareth Southgate has been handed the tempting but challenging role of putting faith back into the England youth set-up as Under-21 coach.
The FA confirmed Southgate will take over from Stuart Pearce immediately following a disappointing European Championship campaign for the Under-21 squad.
“I’m extremely excited about the prospect of working with the best and brightest young players in the country,” the 42-year-old said.
Aside his crucial penalty miss in Euro 96 in the semi-final defeat to Germany at Wembley, Southgate managed Boro between 2006 to 2009 during a tough period that saw him break the club’s transfer fee by paying £13.6m for Brazilian forward Afonso Alves and eventually taking the plunge into the second tier of English football following their eleven-year stay in the top flight.
Southgate does have experience of working in the youth zone under the FA as the head of elite development in 2011 and has had the time to study the game from a back-seat position since employment in punditry began in July 2012 for ITV.
He will report to Dan Ashworth, the FA’s director of elite development and has been given the responsibility to oversee proceedings from under-16 level through to the under-20s.
Southgate’s preliminary game will take place on September 5 with a home fixture at the Madejski Stadium in a 2015 European Championship qualifier against Moldova before travelling to Finland four days later.
What do you think? Will Southgate improve England’s youth development? And do you see his appointment as a positive movement for the national side in the future?