Gareth Southgate has praised “innovator” Pep Guardiola for his positive influence on English football.
Before becoming England manager, Southgate worked extensively with the national age-group sides and has marvelled at a change in culture he traces 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,” Southgate said with a smile during a press conference at Wembley.
“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 his work at Premier League champions Manchester City.
The England boss often cautions against insularity in the British game and credits the Catalonian for broadening horizons.
“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,” said 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.”