The FA have given Gareth Southgate a huge vote of confidence by appointing the former under-21 coach as the permanent manager on the senior national team on a four-year contract. The 46-year-old picked up two wins and two draws during his interim spell following the sacking of Sam Allardyce earlier this year.
England fans will be hoping Southgate can lead the Three Lions to the World Cup in Russia in 2018, but before then the new manager has some big decisions to make. Let’s look at them in detail.
1. Who will captain the national team?
There have been some rumours that if Southgate was to get the England job on a permanent basis, one of his first tasks will be to strip Wayne Rooney of the captaincy for undermining him recently by drinking into the early hours.
2. Will Jamie Vardy feature more in the team?
Jamie Vardy is evens with bookmaker Betway to be crowned the Official FA England Fans Player of the Year for 2016 following the 12 months he has had for Leicester where he helped the Foxes win the Premier League in the 2016/17 campaign.
Vardy hardly featured in France at Euro 2016 as Roy Hodgson opted to use Harry Kane more in a 4-5-1 formation. Some England fans have been pleading for Vardy to be played more which will give the Three Lions the better chance of success.
3. Will Joe Hart remain as England’s number one?
England are very fortunate to have four very good goalkeepers in Joe Hart, Jack Butland, Fraser Forster and Tom Heaton. With Hart getting no younger and having lost his number one jersey at Manchester City, forcing him to play on-loan at Torino in Italy, Southgate has to decide which of the four men he is going to commit to ahead of Russia.
Butland recently suffered a setback from his ankle injury which could see him out of action for a further sustained period. Forster remains a regular for Southampton, while Heaton has stood out a number of times this season for Burnley, including in his side’s 0-0 draw at Old Trafford earlier this season, where Manchester United dominated the game but could not get past the Englishman.
4. Should Steven Gerrard be given a role in his coaching staff?
Steven Gerrard put an end to his playing career last month after his contract expired with LA Galaxy in the MLS. Despite a number of offers from clubs around the world, the former Liverpool man decided to hang up his boots.
Gary Neville was Roy Hodgson’s assistant in the last management team and it would be no surprise if Gerrard was appointed in a similar capacity.
5. How can he make England deliver at a major tournament?
England are expected to qualify for Russia with ease. However, the big test Southgate will face as manager will be how far the Three Lions go once they reach a major tournament.
Southgate helped England win the Toulon tournament earlier this year for the first time since 1994. He will be hoping he can have a similar effect on the national team at the World Cup and beyond.