Has anyone seen a scapegoat? I’m sure we left it somewhere around here.
There must be someone to blame, to rant against. Even a small burning effigy would do.
But no, not this time. The man who missed in ’96, the chap with the bag on his head in the Pizza Hut advert will return a hero, boosting waistcoat sales for M&S in the process.
Yes, that’s right, Marks and Spencer revealed on the eve of our biggest game for decades that sales of ‘Gareth Southgate style waistcoats’ doubled since the start of the World Cup.
Searches for waistcoats on the M&S website have increased by over 100 per cent. It even spawned #waistcoatwednesday with M&S cleverly leveraging the opportunity for maximum effect.
No, I didn’t wear one. Sorry.
Now, the fact that ‘Gareth Southgate’ and ‘style’ are even in the same sentence would have seemed ludicrous weeks ago, let alone back in 1996. However, it shows just how far he and his unique brand have come in terms of PR.
He’s rebuilt his career since that penalty nadir slowly but surely. Carefully, making small moves, correct moves, patiently. It has been a wonderfully orchestrated set-piece.
His relationship with the media, for now at least, has been excellent and that is a major part of this story. He has sheltered players, defended players, given genuine insight and not been afraid to admit failure or indeed excitement.
He and the England team have been a breath of fresh air.
We may not have won, we may have fallen at the same stage as Gareth did back in 1996 but this time, there are no harsh words. There is no backlash.
Our lions have a renewed pride and nobody has paid the penalty.
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