Gareth Southgate has masterminded yet another progression to a major tournament semi-final, as England prepare to take on Denmark in the last four on Wednesday evening.
The Three Lions’ thumping 4-0 win over Ukraine in the quarter-final has not only raised public expectancy, but it also ensured a first European Championship’s knockout win since 1996.
In truth, the nation has been starved of tournament victories, in both the group stage and beyond, in the last 25 years, with Southgate somewhat bucking the trend for recent England managers.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the men who’ve picked up the most wins at major tournaments while in charge of England.
Walter Winterbottom – 4
The predecessor to the legendary Sir Alf Ramsey, Winterbottom was in fact England’s first ever full-time manager, taking charge of the side post World War II in 1946, despite having had no managerial experience beforehand.
Still in his early thirties at the time of his appointment, he had only enjoyed a brief professional playing career at Manchester United, with both a spinal injury and the war curtailing his on the field action.
He would go on to stay in the role for 16 years – the longest reign in the country’s history – guiding the Three Lions to qualification for four successive World Cup’s, reaching the quarter-final stage in both 1954 and 1962.
His long stint in charge also included a remarkable 9-3 win over Scotland at Wembley in 1961 in which the great Jimmy Greaves netted a hat-trick, while he also oversaw a 10-0 win away in Portugal in 1947, with a gifted side that included the likes of Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney and Stan Mortensen.
Amid those notable successes, however, were some noteworthy defeats, including 6-3 and 7-1 losses to Hungary, as well as a shock 1-0 defeat to the USA at the 1950 World Cup – a result that is regarded as one of the nation’s most embarrassing in its history.
In his defence, for the majority of his spell in charge, the team was decided by a panel of selectors, with Winterbottom only earning more sway over selection decisions late in his tenure.
Ron Greenwood – 4
A replacement for Don Revie – who’d endured a dismal three year stint as manager – Greenwood took over in 1977, with England still harbouring slight hopes of qualifying for the next year’s World Cup.
However, with the damage seemingly done under Revie’s watch, the former West Ham United boss was unable to reverse the slump, as England failed to qualify for the tournament once again, as they had done in 1974.
In truth, Greenwood’s arrival was not met with too much support, the wider public instead hoping for the appointment of the charismatic Brian Clough, although the FA opted for a mild-mannered option rather than Ol Big Ead.
Under his stewardship, England would bow out at the group stage at the 1980 European Championship’s, despite drawing with Belgium and beating Spain, while also failing to progress past the second group phase two years later at the 1982 World Cup.
They would beat both France and Czechoslovakia in the initial group phase and go through the tournament unbeaten, yet goalless draws with both Spain and Germany ultimately proved costly.
Bobby Robson – 5
Greenwood’s successor is arguably one of the nation’s most iconic and most beloved manager’s, having helped to repair the disconnect between the team and the supporters, most notably with England’s displays at the 1990 World Cup.
The charismatic former Ipswich boss didn’t get off to the best of starts it must be said, after failing to qualify for the 1984 European Championship’s following defeat to Denmark, although that was to be the only loss he would suffer in 28 qualifying matches in charge.
Two years later, Robson would lead England to the World Cup quarter-final’s having clinched a vital, Gary Lineker-inspired win over Poland in the final group game, before seeing off Paraguay in the last-16.
That last eight clash with Argentina proved to be one of the most infamous in English football history, as Robson’s men were undone by Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’, albeit with the Argentine genius going on to net a sensational second minutes later.
That disappointment was followed by a dismal Euro ’88 campaign in which England lost all three group games, although Robson’s crowning glory was ultimately his final major tournament campaign in charge at Italia ’90.
That iconic summer saw England scrape through the group phase with draws against Ireland and the Netherlands, as well as a narrow win over Egypt, before they saw off both Belgium and Cameroon to set-up a semi-final showdown with West Germany, which ended in inevitable English penalty shootout heartache.
Sven-Goran Eriksson – 7
The Swede became the England national team’s first foreign coach when he took charge in 2001, replacing Kevin Keegan as permanent manager after he’d resigned following a poor Euro 2000 showing.
Armed with what many deemed as the nation’s ‘Golden Generation’, that included the likes of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen, Eriksson failed to end the many years of hurt, going on to suffer three successive quarter-final exits at major tournaments.
At the World Cup in 2002, England won just once in the group stage against Argentina, before comfortably seeing off Denmark in the last-16, only to then crash out at the hands of ten-man Brazil courtesy of Ronaldinho’s infamous lob over David Seaman.
Two years on and with a teenage Wayne Rooney added to the wealth of talent, hopes were once again high for success, particularly after a breathtaking group stage showing from Rooney in the wins over Croatia and Switzerland.
With the then Everton prodigy suffering injury in the quarter-final against Portugal, England went on to exit via penalties, before enduring a very similar fate against the same opponents at the 2006 World Cup, after having beaten Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago and Ecuador en route to the quarter-final.
Gareth Southgate – 8
Much like the man above, Southgate has a growing wealth of talent at his disposal and the ensuing pressure and expectation that goes with it, yet he appears to be able to rise above the public scrutiny like few before him.
Having taken charge on an initial interim basis following Sam Allardyce’s one-match stint as manager, the eventual appointment of the former Middlesbrough boss permanently was met with little enthusiasm, many wrongly suggesting that he was something of an FA ‘yes man’.
While he conducts himself in a calm and measured manner, the 50-year-old has already proven he is made of sterner stuff than many of his predecessors and is quietening the doubters with each passing game.
In his first tournament in charge in Russia three years ago, England revived the nation with their run to the semi-final’s, seeing off Tunisia and Panama in the group stage, before a historic penalty shootout triumph over Colombia and a comfortable win over Sweden in the quarter-final’s.
Despite ultimately suffering defeat at the hands of Croatia in the last four, those demons have somewhat been banished already this summer after beating Luka Modric and co in their opening group game of Euro 2020.
The Three Lions have since won against both Czech Republic and Ukraine, with a long-awaited Wembley triumph against Germany sandwiched in the middle, as they prepare for a pivotal semi-final encounter with the Danes on Wednesday evening.
Alf Ramsey – 8
Southgate’s men will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Alf Ramsey’s famed 1966 World Cup side, the legendary manager still the only man to have guided England to major tournament success.
After leading Ipswich to the First Division title in 1962, Ramsey replaced Walter Winterbottom as Three Lions boss a year later, his first game in charge seeing England miss out on qualification for the 1964 European Championships – or as it was then known, the European Nations’ Cup.
Despite that setback, the former England international would more than make up for it on home soil in ’66, winning against both France and Mexico in the group stage, before seeing off both Argentina and a Eusebio-led Portugal side en route to the final.
Tasked with bettering a talented West German team that included Franz Beckenbauer, Ramsey’s men produced a gritty display, with his decision to stick with Geoff Hurst over Jimmy Greaves paying dividends, with Hurst netting a hat-trick in the 4-2 win.
After the highs of that tournament, Ramsey and co then went on to finish third – out of just four teams – at the 1968 European Championship’s, losing to Yugoslavia in the semi-final’s, before beating the Soviet Union in the third-place play-off.
England’s final major tournament appearance under their World Cup-winning coach came in 1970, as they saw off Romania and Czechoslovakia in the group stage, before suffering a narrow 3-2 defeat to West Germany in the quarter-finals. Ramsey would leave his post in 1974 after failing to qualify for that year’s World Cup.
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The post Ranking the England managers with most wins at major tournaments first appeared on The Football Faithful.
Author: Robbie Walls