Bacon’s Bites: Put on your waistcoat, come out of the Dark Ages and join the world of #GarethSouthgateWould
PA Wire/PA Images
Mike Bacon looks at the Gareth Southgate phenomena, from the science to the waistcoat
Whatever now happens, I feel I have my England back.
Not since 1996 and that European Championship run that ended with heartache at Wembley Stadium against Germany in a penalty shoot-out, a certain Mr G Southgate missing the decisive spot-kick, have I felt so proud to be an England fan.
That year the ‘Three Lions’ song by the Lightning Seeds, with David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, was the summer tune. Cheeky chappy Terry Venables the England boss – a players’ man, a fans’ man.
We were all in the same boat bobbing long to... Well almost, Euro glory.
It’s been a long time.
And whatever happens today, Southgate and his players have done themselves proud.
OK, let’s not get very British and say, ‘well done chaps, excellent run, last eight, great achievement’, let’s win it. Let’s win that World Cup.
Dare to dream.
For those of you on social media, especially Twitter, you will have noticed a very funny hashtag this week... #GarethSouthgateWould.
It started trending on Wednesday and it was hilarious.
Basically, fans were adding what they thought #GarethSouthgateWould.... do. Being such a jolly good egg and all that.
My favourite by a country mile was, #GarethSouthgateWould... ‘Know what day to put the bins out after a Bank Holiday. And would let all his neighbours know just in case’.
Another good one was, #GarethSouthgateWould... ‘Pop in to make sure your nan’s ok while you’re on holiday, get her a bit of shopping in and sit with her to watch Countdown’.
All good fun and although I love and loath Twitter in equal measure, this was very much the former.
In fairness, but by simply being polite, being a winner, with huge doses of common sense thrown in, Southgate has created this ‘big love’ for him and his team.
He is the one who invited all the world’s media to a huge open media day at St George’s Park before heading out to Russia, all of his players available for interview.
He is the one who has implied to the world... ‘Chat to my players, they are all good lads, they have plenty of good things to tell you.’
Most hearts and minds were won before England set foot in Russia, (such a shame so many Premier League and Championship clubs continue to live in the media Dark Ages!)
On the pitch, and at St George’s Park in the lead up to the World Cup, meetings and briefings to players have, I’m sure, been more about ‘being mentally strong’, than ‘get stuck into them’, or ‘win that second ball’.
The scientific approach now rules.
Yes, play good football, believe you can play good football. And if it goes to penalties, as Southgate himself said after the win over Colombia... “Own the process”.
It may sound BS to some, but as a youth coach myself (admittedly now semi-retired), I can assure you this is the future and some have been saying it for years.
Old School football coaching is dead.
It’s the scientific route now... And Ipswich Town fans should be buoyed that new manager Paul Hurst and his modern/scientific ideals will be front and centre with Blues’ players.
But back to Southgate.
I think I have mentioned this before, but I don’t care, it’s topical.
I went in a coaching capacity with my Woodbridge U16s, chairman John Beecroft, secretary Terry Fryatt and coach Anthony Fryatt to St George’s Park two year ago to play in an U16s tournament. Thanks to John we were well looked after and while enjoying lunch in a very nice restaurant, in walked Gareth Southgate.
He queued up in typical #GarethSouthgateWould... style behind us and of course a few boys noticed him.
Soon he was chatting away to us all. He was the England U-21 boss then.
Standing for a photo, wishing us luck with our tournament and shaking all our hands, it was a good 10 minutes before he got his lunch!
Not that he seemed worried, he is simply just a nice guy.
“Boys, you may have just shaken hands with the next England manager,” John Beecroft proclaimed at the time! How right he was.
And finally... As if he hasn’t done enough for the country already, Southgate has also helped the nation’s GDP growth, with increased sales of waistcoats!
The England boss’ love of the waistcoat which he wears on the touchline, has seen a surge in sales.
Marks & Spencer reported that demand for their official £65 waistcoats has shot up 35 per cent. Edward Kelleher, menswear buyer for John Lewis, said: “We have seen a return to the waistcoat.”