With Euro 2020 just around the corner, England manager Gareth Southgate has a lot to think about.
Hopes are high that the Three Lions can perform well in what has essentially become a home tournament for England due to COVID-19.
Southgate took on the role with the English national side in disarray. His appointment in November 2016 came off the back of Sam Allardyce’s ill-fated one-game spell in charge – just months after England’s dismal performance at Euro 2016.
The 50-year-old, though, brought renewed hope to the nation in 2018, when he oversaw England’s march to the World Cup semi-final. He is now focused on delivering an even better result at Euro 2020.
In the first of several special episodes ahead of the tournament, Southgate spoke to the High Performance Podcast, touching on a wide range of topics.
One subject that came up during the interview was what Southgate had learned from his interactions with top bosses in other sports. In particular, he opened up about a meeting he had with Mercedes Formula One team principal Toto Wolff.
“You’re fortunate in a role like I’m in,” Southgate admitted. “It opens the door to speak with Eddie Jones, two days with Toto Wolff, he let me in on the pre-race briefing with Lewis Hamilton.”
When quizzed on what he had taken away from his insight into the world of F1, Southgate replied: “Well, I love the fact that when you walked in the office there’s an F1 car in the middle, which is quite a bold statement in itself.”
“You couldn’t do that with Harry Kane, could you?” asks the host, referring to the fact that it would be tough for Southgate to have a full-sized pitch placed in his office.
Southgate agreed, but suggested that the car was more a symbol of the requirement for unity within a team.
“You can’t really, but it was a reminder that whether you’re working in the commercial department, so you’re getting the money in and the branding’s on there, we’re all working to put that car on the road basically and to create this team.
“And that goes back to what we were saying before, that’s how it has to be for our staff, that every piece is important and quite often that importance is only recognised if it’s not done correctly because people jump on it.
“Why weren’t they physically in the right condition? Why didn’t the medical team sort that? Why didn’t the commercial team get this bit right? And it’s underestimated when those things are done in the right way, the little bits of value it’s added to the performance of the team I think.”
The host of the interview grasps Southgate’s thinking, pointing out that there is probably a lot more in common between the two sports than some fans might realise.
“I think there’s another similarity actually with you and anyone that works in the Formula One like Toto Wolff is the limited amount of time he gets with his drivers, you know, there a day before the race. Someone like Lewis Hamilton who’s a busy guy, there’s lots going on. Toto has to make sure that message that he wants to pass on is delivered as succinctly as possible.”
These fine details could easily be the difference between success and failure for England, who begin their pursuit of glory on June 13 against Croatia at Wembley.