England under Gareth Southgate: rampant individualism and a saviour complex | Jonathan Liew

Manager has become used to the trappings of office and players are in a comfort zone. Where has the sense of fun gone?

Nice to see your own fans throwing beer cups at you. And to be fair, not all England fans were hurling sud-soaked projectiles at Gareth Southgate as he strode towards them at full time in Cologne. Let’s not paint the whole fan base with the same brush. Some of them were making “wanker” signs. Some were booing. Some were giving him the thumbs down. Most had already left to catch the tram. So, you know, got to appreciate the nuances there.

As for Southgate, there was a kind of sarcasm in his calm applause, like a cyclist applauding the motorist who has just sent him flying into the kerb. In a way it was a gesture loaded with sacrificial defiance, a trial of character and duty: the father of the nation nobly bearing your hate, your insults and your refundable plasticware.

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