England interim manager Gareth Southgate concedes he has little affection for the football industry as he takes the reins of the national team following Sam Allardyce’s dramatic downfall.
Allardyce’s tenure as England boss ended after a solitary match on the back of a newspaper sting – the lead story in the Daily Telegraph’s wide-ranging undercover investigation into corruption in English football.
Southgate told a news conference he has shut himself away in a “bunker” at the Football Association’s St George’s Park training base to prepare for the World Cup qualification double-header against Malta and Slovenia, so was not fully familiar with the Telegraph’s week of revelations.
However, the former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough defender says his love for the game itself is what keeps him involved with football.
“I have to say that I’m involved in a sport that I love and an industry that at times I don’t like,” he told a news conference.
“Outside of that, the detail of what happened last week, I’m not too au fait with. I genuinely was locked away.
“I’ve heard names mentioned and bits of speculation. I don’t have the detail so I don’t think I can speculate on what might or might not have happened.
“I think there is lots about the industry of football that I don’t like. But it’s a sport I love and representing my country was something that I loved. They are the bits I have to focus on.”
Southgate has not spoken to Allardyce since the latter’s downfall but has exchanged messages with the ex-Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland boss.
“We exchanged messages and from my point of view that was important. I didn’t want to be seen as someone who was waiting in the wings for an opportunity,” he added.
“I think Sam knew that, he knew I was there to support him in any way possible.
“I felt it was important to thank him. The working relationship, from my point of view, was very positive.
“He’s obviously got his situation to deal with now and I’ve got to get on with leading the country forward.”