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29 August 2017

Malta vs England: Gareth Southgate plans to copy All Blacks and adopt their ‘no d***heads’ culture

THEY are going Black to basics.

Gareth Southgate’s search for the winning formula has taken him to the world’s greatest rugby side.

New Zealand's 2015 World Cup-winning squad was arguably the greatest rugby team of all time
New Zealand’s 2015 World Cup-winning squad was arguably the greatest rugby team of all time
AFP
Gareth Southgate is planning to learn from the All Blacks
Gareth Southgate is planning to learn from the All Blacks

England’s head coach has been borrowing ideas from New Zealand, getting into the minds of the world champion All Blacks as he shapes the future of the national football team.

He wants England’s players to behave like an All Black, to think like an All Black, to perform like an All Black.

Southgate will even adopt their ‘no d***head’ culture as he prepares for next summer’s World Cup in Russia.

He wants the players to have halos over their heads, to make sacrifices to play at the highest level and to buy in to Southgate’s ideas for a  successful England side.

It works for the All Blacks.

They rooted out the bad boys, with the dressing room managing itself after weeding out some over-inflated egos.


New Zealand have continuously challenges at the highest level
New Zealand have continuously challenges at the highest level
Times Newspapers Ltd

England have brought in Owen Eastwood, consultant to the All Blacks, Chelsea, Manchester City and even Nato, to cut some of the corners.

He will need the magic touch to make a difference to this group of players. The World Cup is under a year away and England have very little chance of making an impact at the tournament.

Spain, Germany and France are still streets and streets ahead of us.

To make up some of the lost ground, Southgate wants the dressing room to police itself in the run-up to Russia.

The All Blacks’ ‘no d***head’ culture was first revealed by New Zealand’s mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka.

He said: “A d***head makes everything about them. They are people who put themselves ahead of the team.

“People who think they are entitled to things, expect the rules to be different for them, people operating deceitfully in the dark, or being unnecessarily loud about their work.

“Other teams put up with it because a player has so much talent.

“We look for early warning signs and wean out the big egos pretty quickly. Our motto is ‘if you can’t change the people, change the people’.

“The management might not spot these counter-productive behaviours. The players should call others out for their inflated egos.”

Gareth Southgate is aiming to improve England's record in major tournaments
Gareth Southgate is aiming to improve England’s record in major tournaments
Rex Features
The Three Lions are preparing to take on minnows Malta
The Three Lions are preparing to take on minnows Malta
Rex Features
Gareth Southgate wishes England women luck ahead of Euro Quarter-final…and reveals his favourite biscuit!

Self-regulation is one thing. Winning football matches is a lot harder.

The FA are obsessed with best practice this and best practice that after appointing Southgate as head coach.

All this stuff is icing on the cake, the sort of marginal gains sports teams make when they reach the very top. England are an awful long way from that.

Still, they should be saluted for trying everything to make a difference in the absence of having a squad of top-class footballers.

There is also now a Memorandum of Understanding with Germany about developing football, although who knows what they expect to learn from England.

The FA are picking up ideas from the DFB, talking to them about training bases and ways to tune up the players before major tournaments

Germany, World Cup winners in 2014, cannot possibly consider England to be a serious threat next summer if they are willing to pass on some of their secrets.

England have hit form since their defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016
England have hit form since their defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016
Rex Features
Rooney’s International football career has seen him net 53 goals

Southgate is making further changes, with a seven-minute film being shown to new squad members when they arrive at the team hotel for the first time.

Harry Maguire and Nathaniel Chalobah, both called into the squad for the World Cup qualifiers in Malta on Friday and at home to Slovakia on Monday, watched it yesterday.

The short film begins with Southgate missing in the semi-final penalty shootout against Germany at Euro 96.

He wants the players to know what it means to play for England, to wear that shirt and what it represents.

There is now a dressing-room ceremony when players are awarded their first cap for the country.

Southgate asked Glenn Hoddle to present Michael Keane with his after the centre-half  was picked to play against Germany earlier this year.

The pomp and ceremony, the froth that comes with this stuff is all very nice, but  sport is all about results.

That, as ever, is the bottom line.



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