Gareth Southgate: Manchester United interest completely irrelevant to me

Gareth Southgate: Manchester United interest completely irrelevant to me
Gareth Southgate insists his focus is on Euro 2024 - Getty Images/Robin Jones

Gareth Southgate has said potential Manchester United interest in him is a “complete irrelevance” while he aims to win Euro 2024 with England.

The 53-year-old has emerged as a possible frontrunner to succeed Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford if the Dutchman is sacked after the FA Cup final.

Southgate, however, insisted there had been no “conversations” with those billing him as a favourite for the job. “I’ve got one thing to focus on,” he said in an interview with ITV News. “That’s having as successful a tournament with England as possible. Everything else outside of that is a complete irrelevance to me.’’

Describing his preparations for the tournament next month, Southgate confirmed he is learning German and “slowly building a small vocabulary”. He also ruled out the prospect of his players getting involved in any political demonstrations this time. Players taking the knee became a talking point at the previous Euros while the last World Cup in Qatar sparked tensions after players were warned of sanctions for wearing the LGBTQ-supporting ‘One Love’ captain’s armbands.

Southgate, who insisted the issue had not been a “distraction for me” in Doha, said he could foresee no political statements from players in Germany. “I don’t think there’s anything specific or that there’s external pressure to be expected to support and, you know, ultimately, we have taken the stand on certain things but that hasn’t been our reason, when we’ve gone to tournaments, we’ve not been looking to make political statements, things have happened to us as a team, like the racist abuse of the players that have shaped what we’ve done and stood for as a team, and we haven’t actively looked to do that,” he said. “Our mind is just to go and win the tournament really.’’

Of his progress learning German, Southgate said: ‘‘[It’s] bang average… Well, I’ve got an app that I was struggling with, and I was just conscious I didn’t take German at school, I did a bit of French and Spanish so when I travel, I can get by in those countries. But with German I didn’t have a clue, so I’m slowly building a small vocabulary. I don’t think you know, finding the tube station is going to really help us at this point.’’

England manager Southgate is among the potential candidates to succeed Ten Hag. Unlike others linked to the job such as Thomas Tuchel, he is yet to win any silverware as a coach, but that is not expected to count against him.

Telegraph Sport detailed last week how United do not intend to sack Ten Hag before the FA Cup final, but it is now rated as increasingly likely that a change of manager will be made once the club’s season has ended.

However, winning his first trophy this summer – the European Championship – could remove Southgate from the running for the United job if he then decides to stay on as England manager for the World Cup in 2026.

‘‘If I start talking about that, then I’m already distracted from what I’m doing,” Southgate said when asked whether he will return to club management at all. “So, I think the country would expect that my focus is on England, and rightly so it is. We’ve had three tournaments where we’ve taken the public on brilliant, ride, I think we know that and I know that you’ve got that desire to go that one step further, and this is a brilliant opportunity for us to do that.’’

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