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Will Gareth Southgate's Manchester United link derail England's Euro campaign?


Here are the facts we can safely be certain about Gareth Southgate, with the European Championship less than a month away.

We know that Southgate is the head coach of the England national team, as he has been for the last eight years, that his squad is a leading favorite since their final defeat three years ago and that he is in charge of one. The most talented roster his country has ever seen.

But soccer deals with uncertainty and possibility as much as it does with indisputable truth, and if you follow the speculation in the English media too closely, there's another narrative to ponder.

According to various reports, Southgate will either be the head coach of Manchester United after the Euros, has no interest in talking about becoming the head coach of Manchester United, is among the main contenders to become the head coach of Manchester United or is considering becoming the head coach of Manchester United. One of several intriguing future prospects he could be offered.

Surprisingly, all of these things may be true.

With a new part-ownership of Britain's second richest man – Sir Jim Ratcliffe – it should come as little surprise that United's board would be unimpressed with current coach Erik ten Haag.

United are currently stuck in eighth place in the English Premier League with two games to go. If it finishes in that position, and fails to beat almighty Manchester City in the FA Cup final, it will mean missing out on European competition for the first time in a decade.

It shouldn't come as a shock that Southgate is in the mix to replace Ten Haag if the Dutchman is ousted. Southgate's England contract expires in December, and he has done an admirable job, galvanizing a fan base behind a young and bright group, which has taught the country that it needs to love its national team again.

However, managerial uncertainty is a thorny old topic. And just as England finally enter a tournament with everything going swimmingly and never high on hopes that its 58-year trophy drought could end, the link between Southgate and United presents a hole that should not be underestimated.

When a team thinks the boss is on its way out, the dynamic changes. Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool saw their EPL title challenge collapse after it was announced he would be moving elsewhere at the end of the campaign.

At the international level, the memory of Spain's sacking of Julen Lopentegui days before the 2018 World Cup because details of his impending move to Real Madrid were leaked, serves as the ultimate cautionary tale. Spain, arguably the best team in the world, lost to hosts Russia in the round of 16. Lopetegui also lasted three full months at Madrid before dropping out.

Former Liverpool midfielder Jason McAteer, now a media analyst, recently claimed that a current United player told him Southgate would arrive soon. “(Southgate) was the name,” McAteer told BIN Sport.

In 2018, when a young England squad caused a stir in the semi-finals, Southgate became a cult figure and everything was sweet, the biggest debate being whether his preferred vest-wearing habit during games would become old-school sartorial. Item in a new national fashion statement.

This time things are a little more serious, and the stakes are higher.

Southgate has his own, specific style and he is determined to stick to it.

He refused to make unrealistic promises and was steadfastly honest. He has shown compassion to those in need, such as Raheem Sterling returning to England after his family home was burgled during the 2022 World Cup. There has also been brutality at times, because the nature of the job demands it.

Southgate has been fortunate to call upon players of extraordinary ability such as Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden, and a generational striker (and captain) in Harry Kane, but he has also navigated the difficult waters that an abundance of talent can bring.

He doesn't want confusion, and no surprises.

“I have to have a successful tournament for England and there is a lot of work to do,” Southgate told reporters this week. “I think everyone would expect that's where my focus should be.

“There will always be speculation about the manager, because if you lose a few games you're in trouble – you win a few games it's a different agenda. But for me, (Euro 2024) is a bright opportunity. We're looking forward to the tournament. My focus is: Will we go a step further than the last Euro?

Of course, just because Southgate doesn't want to talk about any links to Manchester United, that won't stop everyone else from chiming in.

Executive Sir David Brailsford is Ratcliffe's chief adviser, and is close enough friends with Southgate that the coach attended Brailsford's recent 60th birthday party. During his England tenure, Southgate also worked closely with Dan Ashworth, who went on to become United's sporting director after a stint with his former club, Newcastle United.

England positively go nuts for major tournaments like the Euros and the World Cup, and this summer will be no exception. So hungry for news that the last time a major event was held in Germany, the 2006 World Cup, one of the most talked-about topics was the behavior of players' wives and girlfriends, partying at a hotel near the team. base

Southgate and his future will be overwhelming to writers and audiences alike.

In Britain, you can gamble on such things, and the odds sometimes provide insight into the hiring potential of certain job candidates, and the range of marks can sometimes be ridiculous.

Southgate, for what it's worth, is a +350 second-favourite with most oddsmakers for the United position, just behind Thomas Tuchel, who looks set to leave Bayern Munich after the German giants failed to win 10 consecutive Bundesliga titles.

In England, there is growing concern that the issue of Southgate's future could be seen as a huge opportunity for the long-awaited hardware.

His team is confident, hugely boosted by the way Bellingham is coming back from an incredible debut season with Real Madrid, and he seems fearless and skilled – perhaps the right kind of character to persevere on the field. Perennial grudges face and historical scars resurface whenever England gets a sniff of glory.

Southgate and his poise were a reason for optimism and there is no reason to change that. Whether England might be a victim of its own success – well, that's another thing to ponder.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for Fox Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX And Daily newsletter subscription.

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