“He’s a very genuine guy,” England defender John Stones said. “There is a fine line, where a manager has got to have his football brain in gear, talk about football and know when we should relax. He balances that as well as anyone I’ve seen. That’s credit to him.
“He’s brought in a lot of new ideas in the two years since he came in,” Stones continued. “We’re seeing the results of those, the togetherness of the team, the spirit, the hunger. The more time we’re together on the training pitch, we’re only going to get stronger. It takes time, but he’s a great manager and it’s great to be able to work with him.”
Speaking on the show produced by England’s Football Association called Lions’ Den, Kyle Walker lauded Southgate’s approachable disposition: “It is why he is getting the best out of us players because he’s experienced all this before. You know, he’s lived what we’re living now, but he’s also very approachable, where you can go and speak to him. He joins in with the banter, so we’re one big family here now.”
While some may find it difficult to imagine Southgate giving anyone the hairdryer treatment, discipline where necessary is an essential part of any elite coach’s arsenal. As a player, he had a single-mindedness and an enormous will to succeed. As a manager, he told FIFA TV he communicates his messages in a measured way.
“I’m not one of the lads,” Southgate explained. “I think they know there’s a line and where the expectations are, but I don’t think you have to be like that 24 hours a day and I don’t think you have to be that way to get your point across. I think there are lots of different styles of leadership and moments to show different types of leadership, and different styles of communication. You’re always looking to have as much impact as you can, but I guess I am happy for others to talk about that rather than me.”