(photo via independent.co.uk)
For the first time since 1990, England’s 2018 World Cup team is going to the semifinals. The England national team is finally getting the chance at a championship victory after struggling on the international stage for two decades.
So, when England’s manager Gareth Southgate was given the job, he wanted to change things up by using inspiration from American football.
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"The technical details of sports are different, but the challenges of leadership, team building, best ways of dealing with the media, that crosses over for every sport," Southgate said.
In recent years, England has been unable to face the challenges of big occasions. Southgate felt he could learn from the NFL on how the players and coaches operate in a big-match experience like the Super Bowl, and apply some of their principles to his team.
"One of the reasons some of our guys have traveled is to see how the NFL operates because we don't have to do things the way they've always been done, we can try different things that work," Southgate said . “If you keep always doing what you've always done, you get the same results.”
Southgate and his assistant, Allan Russell, have attended the last two Super Bowls and a Seattle Seahawks game.
In February, they traveled to the U.S. for the Super Bowl along with other England personnel. Southgate said at that time he was there to enjoy the New England Patriots-Philadelphia Eagles matchup, but also observe the teams’ strategies and how they relate to European football.
“The fascination for me is, yes, the occasion, but also watching the coaches on the side and the defensive strategies and attacking strategies of the teams, so there'll be so much that I'm looking forward to watching as well as just the game and the outcome," Southgate said. "All of the coaches have been speaking about the details of what is going on and you're always thinking about how it might relate to your sport.”
Because this is a big year for England, all eyes – including the media – are on them. Southgate also had the chance to learn about managing the publicity from the NFL.
"I think sometimes around major tournaments the relationships between our guys and the media has been a bit confrontational, and I don't think it has to be that way,” Southgate said. “So this [Super Bowl] seems very open, a lot more relaxed, there seems to be a lot more respect between people.”