O'Neil: Former boss Gareth Southgate is impressing with England
GARETH SOUTHGAREÂ is impressively masterminding England's entry into a new era.
That is the verdict of Gary O'Neil, who served under the Three Lions boss during his Middlesbrough days.
It was Southgate who paid Â£5m to capture the midfielder from Pompey in August 2007 as Harry Redknapp cashed in.
O'Neil subsequently made 120 appearances and scored nine timesÂ for the RiversideÂ Stadium club during a three-and-a-half year stay.
Southgate remained as his manager for two of those years, before getting sacked to make way for Gordon Strachan in October 2009.
And O'Neil still retains great respect for his ex-boss, who is presently earning plaudits overseeing England at the World Cup finals.
He said: '˜Gareth signed me for Middlesbrough andÂ I'm really pleased he is doing well.
'˜From what I hear, all the ladsÂ in the England squad love him and he hasÂ built a really good team spirit.
'˜I think everyone was a little bit sceptical about his appointment to begin with, whether he was strong enough or big enough to take the job. Obviously, he will be judged how we do in the World Cup.
'˜He has definitely turned the feeling around about the England squad and is moving us into a new era, which is good.
'˜Gareth got theÂ Middlesbrough job probably slightly too early for him. Even though I enjoyed playing under him, it was just a difficult time for the club, they were trying to move in a different direction and sold a lot of players.
'˜It wasn't an easy job, but if he was to get a Premier League job now he would find it a lot easier.
'˜AndÂ having watched and listened to him recently, he looks really good.
'˜He's a genuine guy and at BoroÂ actually cared about everyone. He wanted us all to do well and was veryÂ genuine in everything he did around the place, as well as extremely knowledgeable.
'˜GarethÂ played at the highest level andÂ had lots of good ideas, but it must have been difficult to go from captain of the dressing room where you are one of the lads to then movingÂ up to be in charge of all of them and separatingÂ yourself aÂ bit.'
England have reached the final 16 at the World Cup, with a clash against Belgium on Thursday to decide group placing.
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