New England manager Gareth Southgate says he will not introduce a “draconian” disciplinary regime despite the controversy over captain Wayne Rooney’s late-night drinking.
Rooney apologised to Southgate and the Football Association after “inappropriate” pictures taken during the squad’s downtime after the World Cup qualifying win against Scotland at Wembley last month were made public.
Former boss Fabio Capello introduced a notoriously hardline approach during his time in charge, but Southgate, speaking at Wembley after signing a four-year contract to succeed Sam Allardyce, said: “I’m not convinced that draconian is going to work for English players.
“We have maybe had a go at that in the past, with the Italians. That regime of how they have prepared for club matches is very similar to the national team.”
Southgate, 46, earlier told BBC Radio 5 live: “There’s a time to have a glass of beer or wine but at the appropriate time and the right level.
“We talk about pressure. We spend most of our time trying to relieve that pressure and if we put ourselves in positions where we are going to increase that pressure, then that is not intelligent.”
Southgate keen to follow All Blacks example
Southgate made it clear England’s players must adopt their own strict code in an attempt to end the years of international failure.
“There has got to be lines of what is acceptable and what isn’t,” he said.
“Look at top sports teams like the All Blacks, who are one of the best examples of teams that have won consistently over the years.
“The players are involved in that, because you are giving them ownership and accountability.”
Southgate added: “If our players want to be top, top players, which I believe they do, then they have got to recognise the things that are going to help us achieve that, and the things that are going to detract from that.
“The days are gone from when I was younger where we did have beers after a game – fish and chips and beer on the way home on the coach and probably fall off the bus.
“The rest of the world isn’t doing that, so we are competing in a different landscape and have to be as prepared and professional as everybody else.”
The Sun published images it said showed Rooney drunk at a party late on Saturday night on 12 November, a day after England’s 3-0 win over Scotland.
Southgate said: “If I was to give you one bit of detail, it would be that the only time I saw Wayne was at about 10.30pm that night.
“I was watching a video of the Spain game, which is a usual Saturday night for me, and he popped his head through the door to see what we were doing as a group of coaches.”
Job interview ‘not a fireside chat’
FA chief executive Martin Glenn insisted Southgate was subjected to a stringent interview by a five-man panel at St George’s Park on Monday, and rejected suggestions the process was simply a formality after the former defender’s four-game spell as caretaker boss.
Glenn said the process of appointing Allardyce after Roy Hodgson’s resignation following Euro 2016 meant they were already prepared after speaking to summer contenders such as Steve Bruce and RB Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick.
“It was reported as a ‘fireside chat’ but it was anything but,” said Glenn. “It was three hours – Howard Wilkinson, Graeme Le Saux, the chairman Greg Clarke, me and technical director Dan Ashworth.
“It started off with a review of ‘OK, go through the last four games, what have you learned?’ and there was some pretty feisty opinions from the more technical people in the room about some things.
“So that was a good example of saying ‘OK, do Gareth’s powers of analysis stand up to scrutiny?’ – and, as Gareth has said himself, thinking correctly under pressure.
“It’s really important for the England team and is important for anyone in what is a high-pressure role.
“We had Gareth independently assessed for mental strengths and how he takes decisions, so that was a separate set.
“We also had extensive background checks, as you might imagine. There was a number of different data sets that went in.”
Analysis – measured, assured, confident
Southgate has been portrayed as a safe appointment following the turbulence of Allardyce’s 67-day reign – but his introductory news conference was measured, assured and confident performance, with Glenn and Ashworth nodding approvingly at various stages.
He has none of the self-confidence bordering on bluster possessed by Allardyce and loses no marks for that.
Southgate may be more low-key but there was a mixture of determination and self-deprecation in his demeanour.
Southgate dealt sensitively and maturely with the inevitable inquisition about the current claims of child sexual abuse at football clubs, while also handling the questions about discipline and the future of the England captaincy with the same calmness he demonstrated throughout his interim tenure.
This may not be an appointment that has got the pulses of England fans racing, but it was certainly a reassuring day for those at the FA who have placed the future in his hands.