Overall, Gareth Southgate’s England reign has been a successful one, but it still hasn’t brought that elusive tournament victory. Ahead of his 100th game in charge this weekend, can Euro 2024 finally spell the end to England men’s trophy drought?

Gareth Southgate will take charge of his 100th game as England manager on Saturday when his Three Lions’ side take on Switzerland in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals.

This is undoubtedly one of his biggest games in charge of his nation, with scrutiny over his decisions greater than ever before and big question marks over his future in the role. Lose, and it could be 100 and out for Southgate. Win, then he is within two matches of being just the second England coach in history to win a trophy with the men’s side.

The only other man to win a tournament in charge of England was Alf Ramsey, who famously led the country to the 1966 World Cup crown with an extra-time win over Germany at Wembley Stadium. Southgate came close to emulating success on home turf in 2021 when he led England to the Euro 2020 final at the same – albeit rebuilt – stadium against Italy but suffered disappointment in the most English way possible: a penalty-shootout defeat.

Still, Southgate is undoubtedly one of the most successful England men’s coaches of all-time. His win ratio in major tournaments stands at 57% (13 wins in 23 games) – only Ramsey (67% – 8/12) managed higher. Across all games, Southgate (60.6%) has the fourth-best win ratio of all England men’s coaches, behind Fabio Capello (66.7%), Ramsey (61.1%) and Glenn Hoddle (60.7%).

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It’s hard to read too much into win ratio at international level, with tallies of games managed differing wildly and international football arguably stronger across the board with a much deeper pool of top sides across the world now versus previous decades. But the sheer fact that Southgate has lasted so long in charge of England suggests he must have been doing something right.

Reaching a century of international games in charge of a single nation is rare nowadays. Even across the history of the English men’s team, only Walter Winterbottom (139) and Ramsey (113) got to 100 games as manager. In recent times, very few coaches reach 100 games in charge of a single national team.

Didier Deschamps is still leading France after reaching 100 games in November 2019, while Joachim Löw left Germany in 2021 after taking charge of 198 matches. The only other European national team managers to take charge of 100+ games in a single spell this century are Lars Lagerback for Sweden, Morten Olsen for Denmark, Vicente del Bosque for Spain and Otto Rehhagel for Greece.

There’s no doubt that Southgate has helped England become one of the leading European nations in men’s football since his appointment in 2016, but it’s also fair to say that they are still way off being the best in Europe.

Over his tenure, 76 of England’s games have been in competitive fixtures (i.e. excluding friendly internationals) and he’s led the Three Lions to victory in 46 of those matches. That win ratio of 60.5% is decent, but still behind six other European nations across Southgate’s spell in charge: Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain, Netherlands and Germany.

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Twenty-four of Southgate’s England games have come against opponents ranked within the top 10 of the FIFA Rankings at the time of playing them. Just seven of those have ended in victory, while they’ve been outscored 27-24 in those games against the ‘elite’ of international football.

A big criticism of Southgate and his England side has been their inability to beat major nations in tournament football. Only one of those wins against sides ranked within the top 10 of the FIFA Rankings has come at a major tournament – the 2-1 Euro 2020 semi-final victory over Denmark after extra-time. It certainly helped that the game was hosted at Wembley, too.

His other four tournament games versus top-10 nations saw England lose to Belgium twice at the 2018 World Cup (albeit both in fairly meaningless games), lose to France at the 2022 World Cup and draw with Italy in the final of Euro 2020 before eventually losing a penalty shootout.

It cannot be ignored that he helped the English men’s side reach a first major tournament final in 55 years and got close at the 2018 World Cup, losing to Croatia 2-1 after extra-time at the semi-final stage. But those two games show one of the problems that many find with Southgate’s England team – safety most often outweighs risk.

They took an early lead in both the Euro 2020 final and the 2018 World Cup semi-final, but didn’t go for the knockout blow, instead playing with extreme caution, scared to attack in case they conceded. Much negativity has been spread on England’s safety-first approach under Southgate at Euro 2024, despite starting brightly in most performances. This is an issue that led to their eventual defeats in 2018 and 2020.

Against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semis, England led 1-0 at half-time but the remaining 75 minutes (including extra-time) saw them attempt just seven shots worth 0.24 expected goals and touch the ball only 10 times in the Croatia box.

The story against Italy in the Euro 2020 final was similar. Having led 1-0 after Luke Shaw’s second-minute goal, England only had one more shot on target and five shots in total across the remaining 118 minutes. A second England goal in both of those games may well have finished off their opponents.

Croatia 2-1 England 2018 World Cup
Italy 1-1 England Euro 2020 Final

Southgate will hope that Euro 2024 will end differently, despite such a mediocre start to the tournament. Much of those hope will undoubtedly be pinned on the goals of Harry Kane.

Kane has been a constant source of goals under Southgate and the most reliable player during his tenure. The England captain surpassed Wayne Rooney’s all-time men’s goalscoring record against Italy in March 2023 and has scored 60 of his 65 England goals under Southgate. That tally is surpassed by only Cristiano Ronaldo (69 for Portugal) and Romelu Lukaku (66) across all European players in international matches since Southgate’s appointment in September 2016.

Kane has contributed 29% of England’s 209 goals under Southgate, with his tally being an astounding 42 more than any other player for the Three Lions across those eight years, ahead of Raheem Sterling (18), Marcus Rashford (16) and Bukayo Saka (11).

Unsurprisingly, Kane has been Southgate’s most-used player in an England shirt, too. His 78 appearances are 11 more than the next best, Kyle Walker (67), with Jordan Pickford (65) and John Stones (65) just behind the Man City defender. Overall, Southgate has used 99 different players across his 99 games in charge of his country.

Expectations are high for England to finally put in a performance at Euro 2024 when they come up against the Swiss on Saturday afternoon. Four meek displays so far, including a very underwhelming win over Slovakia in the last 16, where they were just a minute from being eliminated before Jude Bellingham’s sensational overhead equaliser, have added more pressure on Southgate and his side.

A defeat this weekend would surely spell the end for Southgate’s tenure as England boss, but he’ll hope to squeeze out three more victories from his squad to end on the highest of highs.

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