Interim England manager Gareth Southgate admits he dislikes much about the football industry, as the dust settles on Sam Allardyce’s short-lived reign at the Football Association.
Allardyce was ushered out of the England job last week just 67 days after his appointment amid controversy over indiscreet comments he made to undercover reporters posing as business clients.
England Under-21 coach Southgate has stepped into the breach for the senior team’s four fixtures over the next two months, starting with a World Cup qualifier against Malta at Wembley on Saturday.
He insists he has not absorbed the details of recent allegations against Allardyce and other figures in English football, but revealed his three decades in the game had left him with mixed feelings.
“I have to say that I’m involved in a sport that I love and in an industry that at times I don’t like,” said the former Middlesbrough manager, 46.
“Outside of that, the detail of what happened last week I’m not too au fait with. I’ve heard names mentioned and bits of information but I don’t have the detail, so I don’t think I can speculate on what might or might not have happened.
“I think there’s lots about the industry of football that I don’t like, but it’s a sport that I love – and representing my country was something that I love – and they’re the bits that I have to focus on.”
Has Southgate spoken to Allardyce?
Southgate said he had not spoken with Allardyce since his abrupt departure a week ago but had exchanged messages and paid tribute to their strong, if brief, working relationship.
“We exchanged messages and from my point of view that was important. I didn’t want to be seen as someone who was waiting in the wings for an opportunity,” he added.
“I think Sam knew that, he knew that I was there to support him in any way possible. But I felt it was important to thank him. The working relationship from my point of view was very positive. He’s obviously got his situation to deal with now, and I’ve got to get on with leading the country forward.”
Southgate backs Rooney's captaincy credentials
Southgate deflected questions about any ambitions to keep the role beyond next month but said he felt compelled to step forward to provide a measure of continuity in the wake of Allardyce’s exit.
He also heaped praise on Wayne Rooney’s capacity to unite the squad during a time of turbulence, having already confirmed that England’s record scorer would keep the captaincy despite patchy form.
“What I’ve seen over the last two years around St George’s [Park], what I’ve gleaned from talking to staff over two years is that he is the outstanding leader in that group,” he said.
“The most important thing [now] is leadership – that’s on and off the field. Wayne has provided that over the last two years. The way he has matured into that role is really impressive and there was no doubt in my mind about keeping him in that position.”