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Gareth Southgate smiles

Gareth Southgate believes in giving ownership and building positive and open relationships with his players. He feels this can help England develop into a team who can compete with the best in the world. 

“I like players to have responsibility. To think about what we’re asking them to do. To have an opinion on the way we’re asking them to play and train. 

“If players have some ownership of what’s going on, then that’s going to help them make better decisions on the field and also buy into the way that we’re trying to progress.”  

Southgate, who took charge of the Three Lions in 2016 after three years with the U21s, believes creating positive and strong relationships with players is the foundation for greater ownership and empowerment. 

My coaching approach

“My approach would be to have empathy with people. As a coach, you always have to be there to support the person. Improving them as a player becomes secondary to a degree.  

“But if a player feels that you respect them and want to help them, they’re more likely to listen to you and follow you.”  

Another aim for the England manager is for his squad to be responsible for decision-making on the pitch. This is something he believes starts by discussing how the game should be played. 

“I like the players to speak up in meetings. I like them to have an opinion on the game. Because in the 85th minute, they’ve got to make a decision that might win or lose the game, and we can’t make all those decisions from the sideline.”  

The most rewarding communication is one-to-one and that may be in a formal meeting or a very informal environment

Gareth Southgate led England to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia

“I tend to prefer informal. It allows people to open up more and feel more comfortable expressing an opinion.  

“I think it’s important to listen, and it’s important to get a feel of what motivates the individual.”  

Southgate believes that his players have responded well to this approach. But the England manager does admit that learning how to communicate and motivate each individual is an ongoing process. 

“Everybody is different. Every player would like a slightly different approach and style of communication, and they have different buttons that need pressing. 

“At the moment, I don’t know all of those things for all the players. But the more you work with people, the better you start to understand them.  

“I think it’s a great challenge for coaches to think about what is needed and what buttons need to be pressed for each individual player to try and help them to improve.”