I'm not sure Gareth Southgate is ready for the England job but seven points from three games will probably be enough to get it

Trevor Steven
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Southgate's first game in charge of England is against Malta on Saturday (Source: Getty)

It was a decision effectively forced on both parties but it is not difficult to see why Football Association chiefs were happy to put Gareth Southgate in temporary charge of the England team.

Southgate is an easy and sensible choice, having grown accustomed to the England set-up in three years as coach of the Under-21s, and ticks most of the boxes required for the top job.

Sam Allardyce’s departure after just one game in charge left the FA with an emergency and – Glenn Hoddle aside – there was nobody better suited to taking the reins immediately.

What does Southgate have going for him?

There is no doubt the former Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and England defender has done a great job ins his three years with the Under-21s, guiding them to victory this summer in the prestigious Toulon Tournament, where they won all five of their matches.

Another of Southgate’s strengths is that he is whiter than white and, unlike Allardyce, a former England player.

His success with the Under-21s brings a sense of optimism to his appointment and, because he and Big Sam are like chalk and cheese, adds to the feeling of a fresh start.

Why shouldn't Southgate get England job

My reservation is that I am not sure that he is ready for the job. His achievements so far looked to have put him in a good position to be considered when Allardyce left in a few years’ time. Instead, Allardyce lasted just 67 days and that time is now.

If Southgate had been the right man for right now then the FA would have picked him ahead of Big Sam two months ago – and he himself would have made a play for the job.

Instead he let it be known that he didn’t want it, which means that his latest remarks about feeling like it was time for him to step up lack some credibility.

Read more: A lawyer explains why FA were entitled to sack Allardyce

Managing England’s senior team is mainly about motivating players to be their best and is different to the Under-21s, which involves more coaching and tactical instruction.

Southgate played under Terry Venables, who focused a lot on the mood of the squad, and will want to call upon his experience of that over the next few weeks.

Nine points and job is his

Interim or not, Southgate is now in pole position to get the role on a long-term basis if he does well in his three World Cup qualifiers in charge.

Even if they don’t he will have the excuse of being thrown in at the deep end, and I don’t think it would harm his prospects of getting the job in later years, but England are good enough to win these games.

If he gets nine points then the job is his, but seven might be enough, and he could hardly ask for a better start than playing Malta – who were beaten 5-1 at home by Scotland last month – on Saturday at Wembley.

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