Even if we lose, it’s arise Sir Gareth for me

PUBLISHED: 11:08 10 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:08 10 July 2018

England manager Gareth Southgate celebrates victory. Picture Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.

England manager Gareth Southgate celebrates victory. Picture Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.

PA Wire

I like quiet men, the ones who don’t need to be the centre of attention, who don’t sit in meetings making sure theirs is the loudest voice in the room.

The ones who get the job done, without fuss, and don’t brag about it either.

These are the men who will say nothing about how they feel, but then suddenly surprise you with a kindness.

Just because they never said anything before, doesn’t mean they didn’t think it or feel it.

These are the men wise women marry.

Lucky Mrs Southgate, I say.

He isn’t grumpily confident like Sam Allardyce or smooth like Sven.

He isn’t a lovable rogue like Terry Venables, or mysterious like Fabio Capello.

Wise women could tell you that Gareth Southgate was the right man, although most of us aren’t very wise and we usually go for one of the others, to our cost.

You only had to see how he responded to England’s victory over Columbia, consoling the Columbians, rather than charging round the field beating his own chest.

I remember what people said when Southgate was made manager.

I remember what people said when he picked his team.

Harry Kane was the only one non-football folks had even heard of.

“We’ve got no chance,” everyone said.

But, quietly, deliberately and with no parade, Gareth Southgate has only gone and got my mother jumping out of our sofa on Satuday and shouting, ‘We’re in the bleeping semi finals.’

Yes, Mum, I heard you swearing.

Gareth Southgate did that.

He’s also done a lot more, banishing forever the tragic sight of him trudging off in his grey kit at Euro 1996 after missing the penalty he should never have been asked to take in the first place.

But no doubt then, as now, when no one else was up for it, he stepped up.

I’m glad he did.

Geoff Hurst said this week that Gareth reminded him of Sir Alf Ramsey, which annoyed me slightly as I had thought of this first.

Sir Alf wasn’t much of one for a parade either.

He was known by his team as ‘usually equable’, although he did, on occasion, ‘blow his top’.

He didn’t have a media persona, and made so little fuss about it all, that after an achievement which history has proven to be the greatest of an English manager for all time, apart from a bit of punditry and a brief spell at Birmingham City, he largely disappeared into obscurity back home in Ipswich.

Just as Gareth didn’t know, as any woman could have told him, that you will never win anything in a grey kit, Sir Alf didn’t know how to have an image or get the media to bang his drum..

But he knew how to win the World Cup, didn’t he?

Arise Sir Gareth.

You walk in the footsteps of giants, and, whatever happens tomorrow, you are fast becoming one.

Serena is the greatest

Hard though it is to care about Wimbledon right now, I did get a nice response to my suggestion that Serena Williams is in fact the greatest tennis player of all time – or certainly will be if she wins yet another Grand Slam, as looks very likely following yesterday’s demolition of Rodina in straight sets, after the difficult birth of her daughter, Alexis.

Thanks in particular to Bill Woolnough, who made me laugh out loud with the following:

Dear Liz, yes, Serena is doing brilliantly to come back after giving birth but I fail to see what all the fuss is about. No lady has ever had to return to firing on all cylinders after man flu. This debilitating experience really does sort the girls from the boys. Pah! Kind regards, Bill.

Theresa No Friends

You know how it is. You get all your friends together to organise a party, big discussions are had, everyone agrees a plan going forward, palms are slapped and then...suddenly you find out that the party you thought you had agreed to is over, you’re no longer invited, and things are being arranged elsewhere.

Actually, I don’t know how that is, but Theresa May does.

She must be feeling very lonely right now in her party of one.

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