Whe Fabio Capello became England manager in 2007, his contract included a break clause that would kick in after World Cup 2010.
The details of the clause were unclear, but it effectively meant that either party could walk away after the tournament in South Africa without any financial ramifications.
Ahead of the competition, the FA agreed to remove the clause.
Sir David Richards, chairman of something known as Club England at the time, announced the news by saying: “We are very pleased to have Fabio’s commitment for another two years and it is good that we have been able to resolve this before the team flies to South Africa.
“Now we can all concentrate on the World Cup and give Fabio and the players our full support.” They flew to South Africa and, regardless of Frank Lampard’s ‘ghost goal’, pretty much stank the place out.
But no worries, the FA had secured the services of Capello and his highly paid coaching staff for another couple of years.
Predictably, it ended in tears early in 2012.
Support similar to that shown to Capello pre-tournament is now being shown to Gareth Southgate in mid-tournament. “We feel he is brilliant, both on and off the pitch,” said FA chief executive Mark Bullingham on Friday.
“We want him to carry on. He’s doing a great job. Regardless of Tuesday. Absolutely. We would love him to carry on, for sure, beyond this contract.”
And this contract runs until after the 2022 World Cup.
Regardless of Tuesday?
What if England get turned over by the first elite national team they meet at Euro 2020 –just as they did at World Cup 2018?
I think it is extremely unlikely – but what if they get a thumping?
That Southgate is, as Bullingham says, brilliant off the pitch is indisputable.
But his brilliance on the pitch will be determined by how he fares against Germany.
There are defining fixtures for coaches of national teams and this is one of them.
Being a splendid ambassador for the country and the sport is not enough reason to have unqualified, long-term support.
England have not made it to the final of a major tournament in well over half a century. Ending that run should be item one in the job description.
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This is Southgate’s second crack at it and he will have a third in Qatar.
I suspect even Southgate would say that if he does not get to a final here or in Qatar in the winter of 2022, it will be time for someone else to have a go.
Showing such public confidence in the manager ahead of a big game is understandable, but to guarantee him the job for many years to come, whatever happens on Tuesday, is bizarre.
That this England squad is one blessed with an array of attacking talent has now become an accepted wisdom.
If it fails, at home, against an unremarkable German team, that will rank as a failure.
But one thing is for sure.
If England do lose, defeat should not come with a new deal for the boss.