How has Gareth Southgate managed to do this?

Ryan Benson

The standard for England managers has hit rock-bottom. The FA have seemingly created a revolving door of mediocrity and that isn’t showing any sign of being slammed shut soon.

Gareth Southgate will almost certainly be made manager on a permanent basis when his four-match ‘trial’ is completed after Friday’s World Cup qualifier with Scotland and the subsequent friendly with Spain. The only conceivable way you can see him messing up is by losing at home to the Scots, who have been largely terrible under Gordon Strachan.

A friendly against Spain shouldn’t really have any bearing, unless it ends in absolute embarrassment. Does he deserve to be given the job full-time, though?

His two matches in charge so far produced an unspectacular 2-0 win over Malta, followed by a painfully tedious 0-0 draw in Slovenia. It was all a bit dull and nothing different to what supporters had to endure in the previous regimes.

Much like his predecessors, Southgate hasn’t exactly made any decisions that have made him look a visionary. Sure, he dropped Wayne Rooney from his starting XI, but it would have been bizarre not to considering his performance against Malta.

Given Rooney’s performances at the time for Manchester United, most would have argued that he didn’t deserve a spot in the squad at all. Leaving him out altogether would have been a bigger statement and would have suggested to the FA that this was a coach who was ready to really shake things up.

Bringing Jagielka back into the fold was a similarly uninspiring decision. A decent defender in his day, at 34 he should be discarded for younger options. Michael Keane should considered the first back-up to John Stones and Gary Cahill, while Ben Gibson is ready for a promotion from the Under-21s after a strong start to the season with Middlesbrough.

And then there’s Jack Wilshere, every England fan’s favourite subject.

The 24-year-old was rather daftly labeled as “brave” for leaving Arsenal on loan for Bournemouth in the summer in an attempt to get back into England contention and to have a solid run of games.

Granted, he has achieved the latter by playing eight Premier League matches so far, but to suggest his form has deserved a recall is nonsense. No goals, no assists; from the outside it seems he was guaranteed a return regardless of form as long as he got first-team football again.

Jamie Vardy is another you could question the inclusion of this time around, given that he hasn’t scored a goal for club or country since September 10. That’s a goal drought of 14 matches, for those who are counting.

As with past managers, Southgate has given little indication that he’s going to offer anything different, but perhaps it’s that consistency of being average, never straying too far from the middle of the road in either direction, that has the FA thinking he’s the right man.

And presuming that’s their take, England look destined to continue their descent into mediocrity.

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