Gareth Southgate declared “the hard work starts now” after finally landing the England manager’s job, with the make-up of his backroom team and a review of team culture the early priorities.
By the time he inked a four-year deal yesterday afternoon Southgate’s appointment had long been considered a fait accompli and his nomination was nodded through during a Football Association board meeting at St George’s Park.
With just one club job on his CV, a three-year stint at Middlesbrough that ended in relegation and dismissal, Southgate landed the job primarily due to his work with England U21s and the measured, decisive approach he took to his four-game interim stint.
That left him in a position of strength when it came to hammering out the finer points of his contract, which is thought to be worth around £2m (€2.3m) per year — less than his immediate predecessors but more than initially forecast and with performance-related bonuses available.
There has been no public mention of a break clause after the 2018 World Cup but it would be a surprise if such provisions did not exist.
Other questions remain open, such as the nature of assistant Steve Holland’s future employment.
Southgate wants his right-hand man to be a permanent member of staff rather than the current job-split with Chelsea and while the Blues are sympathetic to such a suggestion, they are reluctant to make changes midway through their Premier League title bid.
It is also unclear whether Southgate will push for other changes to the coaching staff.
Sammy Lee was a close ally of Allardyce and, although he has remained in post thus far, Southgate may have other ideas now he has permanent control.
There are similar questions to answer around the now vacant U21 job.
Nobody understands the synergy between that side and the seniors better than Southgate and he will want a like mind in what is a key development position.
Whether that is Aidy Boothroyd, who stepped up on a short-term basis from the U20s to seal qualification for Euro 2017, remains to be seen.
Southgate will also confront the issue of free time and the conduct of players on England duty, which came under the spotlight during the previous international break.
Pictures of captain Wayne Rooney socialising with fellow guests in the early hours at the team hotel were splashed all over the newspapers, with other squad members reportedly seen clubbing in London and Liverpool pair Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana understood to have visited a strip club.
No disciplinary action was taken against any of those involved and Rooney’s camp are at pains to stress reports he had gatecrashed a wedding reception or ignored pleas to go to bed were wide of the mark.
But a promised review of protocols around how the team spend their leisure time with England can now take place with the managerial issue settled and the issue of Rooney’s captaincy may well be revisited before the team play again in March.
“There’s now a long period to really start to think about the kind of culture we want to create,” Southgate said.
“Although I’m very pleased with what we did (over the past four games) I feel the need for improvement if we want to be successful as a team. I think there are certain ways of working that we can start to establish that will give us a better chance of being successful moving forward.
“I am extremely proud to be appointed England manager. However, I’m also conscious that getting the job is one thing, now I want to do the job successfully,” he said.
“For me, the hard work starts now.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the players over these past four games and I think there’s huge potential. I’m determined to give everything I have to give the country a team that they’re proud of and one that they’re going to enjoy watching play and develop.
“Having had the opportunity to prove myself over a small sample of games I’ve been able to show I can handle the role. I felt we’d proved to people I was capable of preparing the team for some big matches.”
FA chief executive Martin Glenn outlined why he shared that assessment.
“We are delighted to confirm Gareth as England manager. He’s obviously somebody we know well but it’s his understanding of international football and the development set-up at St George’s Park that is important,” he said.
“He performed extremely well during the four games he was in temporary charge and he impressed us during a tough interview process.
“Gareth is a great ambassador for what the FA stands for, he’s a very good football tactician and a leader but beneath that he’s a winner and that’s an important part of the job.”
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