Fowler welcomes Southgate’s lax approach with England
Dubai: Gareth Southgate’s relaxed management of the England team will reflect positively on the pitch at the World Cup in Russia, according to former Three Lions and Liverpool forward Robbie Fowler.
Both Southgate and Fowler were part of the same England squad that were given a free rein under Terry Venables when they reached the semi-finals of Euro ‘96 despite a controversial pre-tournament nightclub incident that was famously mimicked in a goal celebration by Paul Gascoigne against Scotland.
Subsequent England managers clamped down on after-hours activities and the Three Lions haven’t been back to a semi-final since, but Fowler connects the two, and welcomes Southgate’s eased control.
“Maybe it’s not the right thing to do, but if you socialise with your teammates that instils on the pitch,” said Fowler during a question-and-answer session at Lakeview Restaurant, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, on Thursday.
“Gareth perhaps is maybe more old school and he understands football a little better, he has the players relaxed and lets them be adults, whereas past England managers have treated them like school kids.
“You had to stay in your hotels rooms and ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that’.
“Gareth is letting them be adults and I think that will relate to the performances on the pitch,” added the 43-year-old, who also played under Kevin Keegan at Euro 2000 and Sven-Goran Eriksson at World Cup 2002.
“When you’re at a tournament the amount of time you are away is sometimes horrendous.
“Euro 2000 was horrendously boring, we weren’t allowed to leave the hotel room and it was only us in the hotel, so we were down each other’s throats the whole day.
“It can be a little bit monotonous and boring. Gareth has been there and done that and has been involved in Euros and World Cups, and he’s seen what boring can do to players, so this is why it’s spot on what he’s doing.”
That said, Fowler doesn’t have England — who are pooled with Tunisia, Panama and Belgium, and kick-off their campaign against Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday — down to reach the semi-finals this time.
“I think we’ll get to the quarters. The group is relatively kind and when we get out of the group the next game is relatively kind as well.
“I’m not sure who we can play but we could come up against Japan and you expect England to beat them, but when we get into the quarters that’s when we will meet a few of the big teams and that is when we will be going home.
“We’ll have a relatively good tournament, and it will probably do them the world of good for confidence in future tournaments, that will be the aim, I don’t think anyone expects us to win this one, but if we do well enough we might surprise a few in the future.”
Despite scoring 120 goals in 236 appearances for Liverpool between 1993 and 2001, Fowler only scored seven goals in 26 appearances for England, between 1996 and 2002.
“I should have played more, and that’s not me being egotistical or big headed. Certain managers had certain ideas and players they liked better than others. When I was playing the amount of strikers available was frightening; Shearer, Sheringham, Wright, Ferdinand, Cole, all top class strikers, nowadays there’s not so many to choose from.
“I made my Liverpool debut in 1993, and debuted for England in 1996, by which time I’d already scored 100 club goals, nowadays if you play 10 club games you’re guaranteed an England cap. Whether it’s down to academies or formations I don’t know, but there used to be a lot more players to choose from. I’d have loved to have got more caps but I certainly wasn’t disgraced by the amount I had either.”