Gareth's Final Shot at Glory in Euro 2024

Can Gareth Southgate lead England to a triumphant end in his final tournament? High stakes await as the Three Lions kick off against Serbia.

Published June 16, 2024 - 00:06am

3 minutes read
United Kingdom
Germany
https://www.irishtimes.com/resizer/0Qz3aoq5wvc0eh9wJiN_cSZonkI=/1200x630/filters:format(jpg):quality(70)/cloudfront-eu-central-1.images.arcpublishing.com/irishtimes/C4FHEBA6LYNA7GVDK4EPPUUPNU.jpg

Image recovered from irishtimes.com

As England's Euro 2024 campaign kicks off against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, Gareth Southgate will carry England's expectations on his shoulders for one last time. Southgate, embarking on his fourth and surely final tournament, faces the daunting task of managing not only the team but also the weight of English hopes and fears. This dual responsibility has marked his tenure, making him both a celebrated and contested figure in English football.

Under Southgate's managerial era, England has transformed significantly, shifting the narrative from dramatic personalities to developmental processes. This has been evident through England's transition to a strong squad, especially in attacking midfield, albeit with some positional vulnerabilities. Yet, the conversations leading up to Euro 2024 echo a familiar theme - the emergence of another 'Golden Generation.'

England captain Harry Kane echoes this sentiment, expressing the team's ambitions and recognizing their right to be considered pre-tournament favorites. Kane's remarkable performance, alongside rising stars like Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, and Bukayo Saka, has fueled these hopes. However, Southgate has cautioned against underestimating formidable opponents like Germany and Spain, emphasizing the need for exceptional performances to advance beyond the group stages.

The opening match against Serbia is pivotal, with intricate player dynamics and strategic decisions coming into play. Southgate's selection and tactical adjustments will be scrutinized, especially given his contentious past decisions perceived as cautious by some. England's defense, a mixture of seasoned and relatively new players, faces critical tests against skilled attackers like Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic.

Despite the pressure, historical results, such as the near misses in 2018 and 2020, don't diminish the accomplishments under Southgate's leadership. From reaching the World Cup semi-final to a Euro final, the progress has been palpable. Nevertheless, the recurring question remains whether this group of players can finally transcend historical shortcomings and deliver a monumental victory.

The expectations are immense, and while criticism of Southgate's strategies persists, his impact cannot be understated. His tenure began under tumultuous circumstances and has been marked by steady improvements and a restored sense of pride. Yet, the narrative of English football continues to be shaped by the high stakes of each tournament, leaving little room for complacency.

As the team steps onto the field in Gelsenkirchen, fans and critics alike will be watching closely. Southgate's legacy hangs in the balance, intertwined with the fortunes of a talented squad seeking to end a 58-year wait for a major trophy. Only time will reveal if this chapter of English football, under Southgate's stewardship, culminates in triumph or another bittersweet conclusion.

Sources

How would you rate this article?

What to read next...