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4 Ways We Can All Channel Our Inner Southgate

England are in the Semi Final of a World Cup. After 28-years of hand-wringing, horrified gurns and gentle sobbing, the country suddenly finds itself in a state of bewildered delight.

How, after the embarrassment of Euro 2016’s chastening defeat to Iceland, have we reached this point? In just two years, England have evolved from a team of panic-stricken individuals wearing baking trays for football boots, to a slick machine fuelled by passion and determination seldom seen in previous decades. What means of witchery is this?

Gareth Southgate, that’s what.

Inheriting a squad bereft of confidence and identity, Southgate has transformed the team into one the nation can be proud of. A team greater than the sum of its parts; studiously nurtured to maximise its strengths and mitigate its weaknesses.

So, what can we learn from Sir Gareth? How has he achieved what all but two of his predecessors could not?

Having a clear vision

The Southgate blueprint for success begins with having a clear vision; knowing what he wanted to achieve and how he was going to get there has been crucial to England’s progress. Upon taking the role, Southgate immediately committed to blooding a new generation of English talent. Gradually trimming the squad of established players who had underperformed in an England shirt for years, he quietly went about developing a squad that was young, hungry, and untarnished by past failures.

He also reshaped the team tactically, adopting a 3-5-2 formation that plays to the strengths of the talent at his disposal. Having had a leading role in both the development of St. George’s Park – the new home of English football – and the structuring of the nation’s successful youth teams, Southgate entered the job with an intimate understanding of what needed to be done. He’s had the clarity of thought to follow through on his vision, and England has reaped the rewards.

Making bold decisions

Then there is his bravery. Dropping the likes of Wayne Rooney, resisting calls to include Jack Wilshere in his squad, and even choosing a base with a considerably cooler climate than the temperatures experienced in Nizhny Novgorod and Samara were all contentious calls – but Southgate’s judgement has been resoundingly vindicated. Let’s not forget the decision to rest nearly all of the first team for the match against Belgium either. It’s a call that opened up an unbelievably favourable draw for a team that has since grown in confidence with every victory.

A keen eye for detail

Next up, his attention to detail. By now you will have heard about Sir Gareth’s obsession with penalty shootouts… informed by past experience, he has overseen an unprecedented focus on daily practice sessions, psychometric profiling and who knows what else to lead England to a first ever World Cup penalty shootout win. Add in his love for studying NFL matches to improve the side’s set-piece prowess, and you have a manager overturning every stone to ensure his team is as successful as it can be.

Building trusted relationships

Yet, arguably his most important quality is the way he treats people. Respectful, thoughtful and unwavering in his principles, Southgate has nurtured a fearless attitude in his players by giving them the freedom and support to express themselves. He has protected them at every turn, absorbing criticism and taking responsibility for performances on the pitch. He has fostered a unity by asking his team to simply enjoy itself, free from the spectres of history and expectation. The result is a team that has made the summer of 2018 unforgettable.

So, there you have it. A clear vision; brave decisions; attention to detail; building trusted relationships: the blueprint to England’s success. We can all learn a thing or two from the wizard in a waistcoat.