The  Football Association were mightily relieved on Sunday as they confirmed that Gareth Southgate will continue as England manager.  Southgate was considering leaving his job, with FA chiefs fearful that their manager’s mind was already made up. But Sportsmail revealed on Friday that the governing body had received positive vibes from Southgate and were growing increasingly optimistic that he would stay in the role.

The FA had thrown their full support behind the manager after the defeat to France in the World Cup quarter-final and were desperate for him to remain. And chief executive Mark Bullingham revealed Southgate will stay in charge until Euro 2024, when his current deal is up.

Southgate confirmed after the loss to France that he was considering his future. But after consulting those closest to him, he has decided to stay. A large groundswell of support among fans is also understood to have played a big role in his decision.

‘We are delighted to confirm that Gareth Southgate is continuing as England manager and will lead our Euro 2024 campaign,’ said Bullingham. ‘Gareth and Steve Holland have always had our full support and our planning for the Euros starts now.’

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville believes Southgate’s decision gives plenty of breathing space for the FA to plan for his replacement.  ‘It puts it to bed and allows everyone to focus on the next 18 months. It means a succession plan can be put in place,’ Neville told Sky Sports News. 

‘The real problem is there isn’t a massive pool to choose from. In 18 months’ time you could say (Steve) Cooper, (Eddie) Howe, (Graham) Potter, (Frank) Lampard, (Steven) Gerrard, four or five names who are English, and then put some international coaches in there as well but you don’t know where they will be.

‘Gareth has made us feel good about playing for England again, getting our players and game respected around the world. We are in a good place. I think this idea we have to bring in a hard-nosed, killer winner and all of a sudden we will be OK, I don’t buy into it. Don’t be fooled by the facade he is just a nice guy because he is polite when he speaks to people.

‘Gone are the days when England could buy a manager out of their club contract. The England job unfortunately isn’t as precious as some top Premier League clubs.’ Sportsmail reported on Saturday night that there was growing optimism from within the FA that Southgate would remain as national team boss.

And on Sunday, they announced the 52-year-old will stay on for the final two years of his contract, bringing an end to speculation over his future. Southgate confirmed after England’s loss to France in the World Cup quarter final earlier this month that he was considering his future. 

But, just over a week on, and and after consulting those closest to him who felt he was edging that way the England boss has decided to see the team through the Euro 2024 campaign.

He was encouraged that the public mood seems to have turned in his favour, despite the team’s elimination from the World Cup against France last weekend. Southgate was greatly affected by the reaction of the public on his return to England, sensing the positivity gleaned from how well England played and the nation’s desire to see the team on the front foot.

The news comes as a major boost to the FA, who were desperate for him to stay in charge given the excellent work he has done to transform England into an elite playing nation, and there is now no need to launch a search for a new manager.

England’s leading players had also urged him to stay on after the France defeat and messaged him to reiterate that. Southgate is likely to feel that he would be letting them down if he were to quit now.

However, it is clear that he went into the tournament expecting to quit. He had already hinted at how badly affected he was by the booing at Molineux last June after the 4-0 defeat by Hungary and by the groundswell of negativity towards him.  Many of England’s leading players had reportedly urged the 52-year-old to remain in charge

According to a report in The Sunday Times, written by Southgate’s biographer, the manager was close to announcing after the Hungary defeat that he would quit after the World Cup.

His thinking was that if the fans knew he would be going it would take the heat out of the situation. His assistant Steve Holland talked him out of that. In the past week though, Southgate has noted how balanced media and public reaction has been to the disappointment of elimination. 

Unlike with the Euro 2020 final, when the occasion was marred by hooliganism, racist social media attacks on players and anger towards Southgate, this has been a more unifying experience. 

There has only been a very small backlash against Southgate. It means Southgate will be back at helm in March in a tricky Euro 2024 qualifying game against Italy in Naples, followed by a home match at Wembley against Ukraine. With just 18 months to go until Euro 2024 and with Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden now establishing themselves as key to the England team, the temptation to continue has been pretty obvious.

With France and England now looking the strongest sides on the continent in terms of squad depth and quality, it would be uncharacteristic of Southgate to duck that challenge. When the FA sacked Roy Hodgson in 2016, Southgate initially ruled himself out of the running, which saw Sam Allardyce appointed. 

Southgate quickly regretted that and so put himself forward when Allardyce was sacked after just 67 days, explaining that he urged his children to take risks and accept challenges and so he couldn’t then shirk such a huge opportunity.

Since taking on the job following Allardyce’s departure, the former defender has overseen significant progress for the Three Lions. After guiding them to the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup – during a tournament in which England fans fell back in love with their national team, Southgate then led the Three Lions to the final of Euro 2020.

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