England boss Gareth Southgate tips Patriots to win Super Bowl
Southgate became an NFL fan in the 1980s and has spoken of his admiration for New England duo Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Gareth Southgate will attend Super Bowl LII in Minnesota on Sunday evening and the England manager believes the Patriots’ experience gives New England the edge.
Southgate has been Stateside this week as part of a Leaders in Sport gathering and he has also visited the Minnesota Vikings’ new practice facility, as well as attending Saturday’s NBA game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the New Orleans Pelicans.
On Sunday the Three Lions boss will be at U.S. Bank Stadium to see if New England can defeat the Philadelphia Eagles and win a sixth Super Bowl title in 17 years.
Speaking to Press Association Sport on the eve of the 52nd Super Bowl, Southgate said: “I think it’s always difficult to go against people with big match experience in finals.
“My experience of finals is that there’s a level of performance that you’re capable of hitting and very often people think you’ve got to find a level above that to win a final, and actually getting as close to your normal level as possible is normally enough because people freeze on big occasions or the distractions of the whole week are detrimental to the performance.
“Normally those guys with the big-match experience that have been through it, it’s a big, big advantage.
“I don’t know what Philadelphia have in their camp to be able to deal with that but for me, that’s why it’s hard to go against the Patriots really.”
Southgate, 47, developed an interest in the NFL watching it on Channel 4 when he was growing up and remembers being enthralled by the Los Angeles Raiders running back Marcus Allen and the great 1985 Chicago Bears team.
His current role’s demands make keeping track of the NFL more difficult but he has watched on with intrigue as the Patriots have returned to the Super Bowl despite a report, dismissed by the team, that there has been a growing rift between head coach Bill Belichick and 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady.
“What’s clear is that anybody that wins continually, it’s one of the hardest things to do in sport – to win anyway but to win after winning and keep the organisation hungry,” Southgate said of Belichick.
“The level of detail he works at is clear. It’s interesting following the storyline with him and Brady this year, maybe (the relationship) isn’t quite as close.
“That’s always fascinating because Brady’s 40 now so at some point he’s going to have to leave the scene. How that’s all managed for any coach is an interesting case, I think.”
However, Brady, who was named 2017’s Most Valuable Player on Saturday evening, has no plans to retire imminently having shown he can continue to be elite even at 40.
He has revealed his secrets to maintaining such levels, including pliability exercises and tech-enabled sleepwear, also writing a book titled ‘The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance’.
Yet Southgate thinks Brady will be a unique example across sports of someone able to carry on into their 40s.
“If anything you’d say that even though medical science and fitness is improving, that the level of the hits in a lot of sports mean that players will play for less time,” the England boss explained.
“To have the physical capability to do it and the hunger and the desire to still keep going is incredible really. I’m not sure you’d see many of his like.”