By 90Min
June 24, 2018

While a lot of media coverage has centred around England players and their performances on the pitch so far during this World Cup, something that has flown under the radar is the work Gareth Southgate has done to build a platform for success.

England are yet to achieve anything, by any means, but the Three Lions manager has built the perfect platform to allow his side to succeed in Russia this summer.

For starters, players have been looking relaxed in interviews - which looks to have been fed down from the calm yet quietly confident demeanour that Gareth Southgate exudes.

It appears that Southgate also has a relaxed attitude behind closed doors, which has shown with England players training with smiles on their faces - and even a unicorn race in the swimming pool at the team hotel earlier this week.

When it comes to success at the elite level of the beautiful game, it has become clear in recent years that team spirit goes a long way - just as we saw with Leicester City in the 2016-17 season.

In fact, Leicester and England striker Jamie Vardy made those exact comparisons himself in a recent interview with ESPN.

"We were exactly the same, very close [at Leicester]...having a laugh and a joke at training," Vardy said. "I think that when you are enjoying it more, you play your best football. We have all got that mentality where you just want to win. We want to make sure we are here as winners."

The media and players have also been brought together during this World Cup, and a lot of that is thanks to Southgate. The players and football reporters have been competing in games of darts and pool at the team base in Repino (with the Guardian's Daniel Taylor claiming victories over Kieran Trippier and Jamie Vardy!).

However, very rarely does a manager walk into a job and create a perfect environment for his players so quickly. These things take time, particularly at international level, due to the limited amount of time that managers get to spend with their players.

Southgate, along with The Football Association, have spent several years putting the foundations in place for this current England side.

When Sam Allardyce was dismissed from the role back in 2016, The FA had a crucial decision to make, and it was one that they got absolutely bang on.

FBL-WC-2018-ENG-SVK-TRAINING

The FA had the perfect candidate already within their ranks, with Southgate making the step up from his position as manager of the country's U-21 side. A job that had given him an understanding of what the FA expects, how England teams should play their football and a strong knowledge of the next generation of players that will lead England into major tournaments to come.

Importantly, Southgate knows what it takes to play for England and, if it comes to it, his players know that their manager has experience of going through one of the lowest moments of anybody in an England shirt.

Then a player at Crystal Palace, Southgate missed a penalty in a shootout that saw England crash out of the Euro '96 semi-finals at the hands of Germany.

Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

Critics would say that Gareth Southgate has achieved very little in management before landing the England job and has not proved himself as a manager. However, a look at the career of Germany manager Joachim Löw will tell you that anything is possible.

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