Leader: The summer of Southgate

A new sense of hope about what the English experience can be.


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Until the World Cup, Gareth Southgate’s name had long been a byword for disappointment; his strongest claim to a place in the national consciousness was his missed penalty at Euro 96. But having led his young, diverse team to a World Cup semi-final, the England coach is now associated with something different: a new sense of hope about what the English experience can be. He is the anti-Trump: humble, modest, empathetic. The national mood, so often rancorous and gloomy, has been lifted by a glorious World Cup and the heatwave. The England matches attracted the biggest television audiences of the year and gave a polarised country a rare gift: shared national joy.

Articulate, honest and self-critical, Mr Southgate is a model of a kind of masculinity largely absent from a public life dominated by hucksters and strongmen. As the delights of a memorable World Cup campaign fade, the thoughtfulness and decency of the England manager will endure.

This article first appeared in the 20 July 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The Trump-Putin pact