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The wizard in a waistcoat puts Westminster to shame

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WARM ale, the thwack of leather on willow, cathedral bells on a Sunday morning – these are just a few of the finest traditions in England. And now, to that nostalgic list, can be added the name of Gareth Southgate. I’d place him between roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, and day-trippers struggling to control their deck chairs on windswept, bank holiday beaches. For, as the past few weeks of World Cup fever have shown, the England football manager is the epitome of what we used to think of as Englishness at its best.

In handling his team, and the media, Southgate has shown an admirable example of good sportsmanship, thoughtfulness and humility. North of the Border, the favourite pastime of loudly supporting any team except England lost much of its savour this summer. Croatian shirts might have sold out ahead of the semi-final, but anti-English sentiment seemed decidedly less universal or heart-felt than for previous gladiatorial contests. Southgate deserves all the credit for that. Instead of being faced with the hubris and braggadocio typical of England squad managers – it was left to TV and radio commentators to supply that in spades – Britain was treated to a display of calm and sophisticated judgment, shrewd assessment, canny caution, and reasonable but not inflated optimism.


© Herald Scotland