Gareth Southgate has praised “innovator” Pep Guardiola for the positive influence he has had on English football.
England manager Southgate, who selected his 23-man squad for the World Cup in Russia on Wednesday, worked extensively with the national age-group sides prior to taking over the senior men’s team.
In that time, he has seen a marked difference to the style of play favoured by youth sides and believes that can be traced back to the all-conquering Barcelona side Guardiola led from 2008-2012.
“I think he’s in danger of having an impact on English football,” said Southgate during a news conference at Wembley on Thursday.
“Who coaches our youngest players? It’s dads and parents who coach junior teams. The impact of seeing that Barcelona team five to seven years ago was enormous.
“He’s been an innovator. When I watch kids’ football now, when they can get on pitches that aren’t flooded or frozen, I see them playing out from the back.
“I don’t see [coaches] with heads in their hands saying ‘get it forward’. I think that’s an impact of his team, with the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
“That, coupled with us going to smaller-sized pitches and smaller games, all of that is helping football at the youngest possible age groups.”
Southgate believes ‘the Guardiola effect’ is now continuing thanks to the Spaniard’s influence at Premier League champions Manchester City following a season that saw records tumble, as City clocked up 100 points and scored 106 top-flight goals.
The England manager is keen for players and coaches to take on board a variety of ideas, and credits Guardiola for broadening horizons in the domestic game.
“Now he’s having an impact with his [City] team playing in a manner which is different to anything else we’ve seen at the top end of the game,” added Southgate.
“I always talk about us not getting off the island, so it’s great we’ve had coaches coming on to the island to help us.”