From L-R clockwise: Steve Holland, assistant manager; Chris Powell, coach; Martyn Margetson, goalkeeping coach; Graeme Jones, coach
Credit: PA/GETTY IMAGES
Gareth Southgate has received deserved plaudits for the way in which he has dragged England out of the flames following the dismal Euro 2016 campaign, leading his country to the final of Euro 2020.
But as Southgate’s side prepare for England’s first final for 55 years, against Italy at Wembley on Sunday, Telegraph Sport profiles the England manager’s lieutenants; those without whom he could not do without.
Steve Holland, assistant manager
‘Some players are frightened of him’
The clip of Steve Holland walking towards Gareth Southgate, holding up an imaginary yellow card and telling him to substitute the England players on bookings to make sure they were not suspended for the semi-final, said everything about the influence and professionalism of the assistant manager.
It came after England’s third goal in the quarter-final win over Ukraine that put the tie to bed. Others around Holland were celebrating wildly but the 51-year-old’s focus did not change. It also showed the influence he has on Southgate, who acted immediately. In fact, no substitution is ever made by England without the manager consulting his assistant.
It is Holland who takes charge of most training sessions and it is Holland who has also largely shaped the tactics since he and Southgate moved up together from the Under-21s in 2016. Southgate trusts him implicitly and also has the confidence to defer to his assistant, a trait he has inherited from the manager he credits as his biggest influence, Terry Venables.
Southgate was impressed at Venables’s readiness to listen to Don Howe, and he is the same with Holland, even allowing his assistant to have his say during half-time team talks. Holland – who has been a coach since the age of 21 after his playing career was ended by injury – was undoubtedly shaped by his years coaching at the winning machine that is Chelsea, and Southgate wanted to tap into this, as well as his commitment to bringing through young players.
“I spent eight years at Chelsea and didn’t protect the players from expectation,” Holland said. “If we went to Man United away and drew it was murder. It was like there was a death in the family. This winning environment which we all talk about and want – there is a certain amount of deflecting publicly at least to keep pressure controlled. But with the players if you want to win things it’s something you have to learn to handle and it’s an environment which ultimately we have got to crack if we are going to make that next step.”
In these pages, Cesc Fabregas – who worked with Holland at Chelsea – has called him England’s “secret weapon” and that focus to substitute players once a goal is scored is a “pre-scan” tactic that he learned from working with Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge. “His brain was already on the next game,” said Holland, who has kept notes on every training session he has been involved in and keeps them in 10 hefty folders at his home.
Holland has turned down opportunities to manage clubs and certainly, for now, is comfortable in his role working with the players and allowing Southgate to be the consummate frontman.
Like Southgate, Holland has a ferocious work ethic – some players find him a little frightening – and that was evident during lockdown when he spent time going over every game played by Portugal at Euro 2016 and France at the 2018 World Cup to produce a document for the Football Association on what it takes to win a tournament. England are close to benefiting from that.
Chris Powell, coach
‘He brings a positive vibe’
In a summer of memorable moments for players and supporters, one of the standout images has been the sight of Chris Powell leaping onto Jack Grealish’s back during the 4-0 win over Ukraine in Rome.
Powell’s celebrations were similarly enthusiastic in the win against Germany, with the former left-back sprinting down the touchline in delight as Southgate tried to keep his cool on the touchline in front of him. Powell has been fully embracing the occasion, it seems, and he was at it again after the semi-final against Denmark. As the players celebrated on the pitch, he went up to each member of the squad, bear-hugging them one by one, as they luxuriated in the emotion triggered by their victory.
These outpourings of joy reflect the energy and positivity that Powell has brought to the squad in his role as coach. “Chris has been brilliant around the camp,” said Harry Maguire this week. “There are some days when you are waiting for games when you can do with that positive vibe and energy around the place, and he brings that.”
There is of, course, more to Powell’s role than keeping spirits high and celebrating in style. He is a serious coach in his own right, the head of coaching at Tottenham Hotspur’s academy, and a former first-team manager of Charlton Athletic, Huddersfield Town and Southend United.
Chris Powell joined the England backroom staff in September 2019
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
As a player, he made more than 750 appearances across the divisions, providing enormous experience and understanding of what makes a happy camp.
“He has been brilliant as a coach but also off the field,” said Maguire. “I’ve seen his goal celebrations and he’s really enjoying them.”
Powell was part of Ryan Mason’s coaching staff at the end of last season at Tottenham, and has become a crucial member in Southgate’s team since his appointment in September 2019. Powell was appointed as part of the Elite Coach Placement Programme, which is aimed at challenging the under-representation of BAME coaches, and is believed to have played a significant role in the pre-tournament discussions about whether to keep taking the knee.
The 51-year-old, who made five appearances for England, was originally scheduled to stay in the post until the summer of 2020 but has made such an impression that it would be no surprise if he continued into the World Cup campaign.
“Hopefully, I will be part of history,” he told the Southend Echo. “We’re all part of it already anyway but we want to be remembered for the right thing and that’s getting over the line on Sunday. We want to make the nation proud.”
Graeme Jones, coach
‘He won’t just say yes to you all the time’
Graeme Jones is not just an excellent coach – he is also a strong character and voice in the dressing room who is not afraid to offer an alternative opinion to the manager.
That is precisely why he was Steve Bruce’s first choice when he decided he needed another coach to work with the players at Newcastle United before Christmas last year.
Jones’s impact at Newcastle, following his appointment at the end of January, had a positive impact behind the scenes. He is popular with the players, but also had the ability to slot in under Bruce and the two Geordies have become close despite knowing each other for only a few months.
“The one thing I knew he would be is hard-working,” explained Bruce. “He will plan and plan to make sure that the training is right, and he is strong-minded. What you want to avoid in management is people who just say yes to you the whole time.
“He’s driven, he’s a typical Geordie, rolls his sleeves up and gets stuck into it. I can’t speak highly enough of him. He brought something to us last season.
“The other thing I liked about him was how quickly he integrated into the team behind the team. I’ve never had one voice around me and he has been a terrific addition.”
Graeme Jones only joined up with England this summer
Jones, who played for Doncaster Rovers, Wigan, St Johnstone and Southend United, worked as a coach in the Premier League under Roberto Martinez at Wigan Athletic and Everton, as well as the Belgium national side, but he struggled as a manager at Luton and was sacked after less than a season.
That did not deter Bruce from hiring him, or Gareth Southgate – who first got to know Jones on a Uefa coaching staff – summoning him to the England staff this summer.
“Gareth liked the fact that he had that international experience – he’s used to being alongside big names,” Bruce added. “When you’ve been around the likes of Hazard, Lukaku and De Bruyne, he wasn’t going to be fazed going into the England dressing room. That will have helped enormously and he will not be telling Gareth what he wants to hear.
“He’ll have an opinion and Gareth will make the decisions. That’s why he was my first choice at Newcastle – that and the fact he is from the North East and this club means something to him.”
Martyn Margetson, goalkeeping coach
‘I never improved as much as in my season with him’
Martyn Margetson was the disc-jockey on the coach back to St George’s Park after the defeat of Germany, but his role in camp is much more than blasting out Eighties classics. He has been vital to Jordan Pickford keeping five clean sheets.
The goalkeeper coach’s work is detailed and thorough with Pickford, Sam Johnstone and Aaron Ramsdale. Each get through 500 to 700 saves a week.
Margetson, who played and coached with Wales before joining England in 2016, has worked on the technique of Pickford, making sure his hands are not too low when he faces shots, so the distance to make a save is shorter.
The stance of Pickford and how bent his knees are all play a part in how he saves shots, which is what Margetson’s analyses.
Martyn Margetson linked up with England in 2016
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
“I always coach about seeing your hands in your eye line – because it’s easier for your brain to recognise what your save choice has to be,” he said in a coaching masterclass last season.
Margetson’s results have been impressive. Pickford has pulled off important saves during his clean sheets in the first five games of the Euros.
Margetson has coached at West Ham, Cardiff, Everton and most recently Swansea City, where Freddie Woodman, Gareth Southgate’s godson, has flourished.
“I have never improved in one season as much as I did at Swansea,” Woodman said. “There are things he has put in my game from when I first came. I know people who maybe don’t understand goalkeeping might not get it, but I feel a lot more mature when I play the game. That is down to the work we do day in and day out.”