England interim manager Gareth Southgate believes the Football Association have been right to take their time over his long-term future as he prepares for the final match of his temporary reign.
The Three Lions take on Spain in a Wembley friendly on Tuesday, the last of a four-game stretch granted to Southgate when a newspaper sting brought down Sam Allardyce’s tenure in its infancy.
The former England centre-back told newspaper reporters after Friday’s 3-0 triumph against Scotland that he would been keen to know where he stands soon after the current round of international fixtures, but he has no issue with a return of seven points from three World Cup qualifiers having not cemented his position already.
“I think it’s right to for everyone to reflect,” Southgate said during a news conference after England’s session at Tottenham’s training base on Monday.
“If you’re appointing a manager at any football club, in my opinion, you should take time to see what fits with your philosophy of what you want to do.
“You should speak to all the people you want to speak to because, who knows, someone might emerge who you don’t know so much about.
“It can be a disadvantage having games because everyone’s assessing what you’re doing in every one of the matches and nobody else is being judged on having taken the team.
“But the advantage in my position is in having the experience. Friday was a huge game for our country and it was great to prepare the team for that and come through it.
“I’ve said everything is about the team. I’m not a coach for whom what happens to me is the most important thing.”
On the back of matches against Malta, Slovenia and their near neighbours, Southgate appreciates Spain represent a far sterner challenge of the calm, possession-based approach he has tried to implement.
“First and foremost from these four matches I was asked to pick up, the team are in a healthy qualifying position,” he said.
“Now we’d like to build on that in the game and to show some style, some understanding of what we need to do without the ball.
“Our pressing has to be spot on, because if you don’t get that right against Spain then they can carve you apart. So our work with and without the ball has to be immaculate.
“My view of the game is you manage every game like you’re going to be there for ever and make decisions for the long-term.”
One player who seems to typify Southgate’s vision for developing England’s style beyond this week is John Stones.
The Manchester City centre-back drew criticism during the Scotland match as his attempts to start play deep in his own half came close to backfiring on a number of occasions.
Southgate is adamant he will not be asked to change his approach.
He added: “I remember playing Germany in Euro 96, everyone was talking about Mathias Sammer and saying ‘where’s our Sammer?’ It didn’t prove to be me, unfortunately…
“We had a dabble with Rio [Ferdinand]… did we allow Rio to be quite as good as he might have been or did we inhibit his progress at times?
“John Stones is that top of defender. A number six instead of a number five to use the old fashioned terms.
“In my mind you have to encourage those kinds of players to play. Otherwise we’ll keep watching the Piques and saying ‘why can’t be get those players in’.
“If we don’t allow our players to express themselves tomorrow then we’ll never progress to be a top team.”