Has Gareth Southgate improved England’s image?
January 17th, 2023, Stephan Shakespeare

Has Gareth Southgate improved England’s image?

The England men’s team went out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar this weekend following a 2-1 quarter-final loss to France. The defeat added another entry to the growing catalogue of the national side’s penalty misses and has raised questions about the future of manager Gareth Southgate.

Emotions are running high, and Southgate himself says he is “conflicted” about whether to stay on in the job. Taking a longer view, data from YouGov FootballIndex shows that the public mood around the team has certainly improved since he took over on 27 September 2016, following on from the team crashing out of the Euros with defeat against Iceland.

Between then and 11 December 2022, Impression scores for the England men’s side – which measure whether people have a positive or negative impression of a team – have gone from -12.8 to 10.6, an improvement of 23.4 points. Reputation scores, which measure overall prestige, also climbed from -13.5 to 7.0 over Southgate’s six years as coach (+20.5).

In 2016, scores tracking whether you’d be willing to give up time to follow England sat at 1.2; following England’s World Cup exit, they were at 8.2 (+7). The public are more likely to recommend supporting the team to their friends or colleagues, with this measure rising from -8.7 to 5.2 (+13.9), and – perhaps most importantly for the purists – metrics following the team’s Quality saw substantial gains, rising from 4.7 to 19.4 (+14.7).

Whether Southgate continues in the job or not, his tenure saw a dramatic turnaround in the national side’s public perceptions. Index scores, which measure overall brand health for football teams, jumped from -7.4 to 8.0 (+15.4). There is a far better feeling surrounding England than there was before he joined – even if those all-important international trophies remain elusive.