Gareth Southgate has reshuffled his backroom staff following last year’s World Cup final with the departure of a key figure in England’s senior team: performance psychologist Ian Mitchell, as well as coach Chris Powell.
The departure of Mitchell, who arrived with much fanfare in February 2018 after working with the Football Association of Wales and its senior team as they advanced to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, is a significant change. Southgate has also parted ways with manager Chris Powell, a major figure in Tottenham Hotspur’s academy who has been part of the England team’s staff since 2019.
On Thursday, Southgate will name his first England squad since the World Cup final in Qatar in December, as a new cycle for Euro 2024 begins with qualifiers against Italy one week on Thursday and Ukraine three days later. Southgate and Steve Holland’s partnership at the heart of the Southgate years remains intact and the pair now embark on their fourth tournament cycle.
There will be changes elsewhere with others in the performance psychology department, as well as Mitchell also expected to leave the FA. After his initial appointment to the FA in 2018, Mitchell eventually succeeded Pippa Grange as head of performance psychology in 2019, a high-profile position with the aim of developing all England teams.
Southgate has placed particular emphasis on developing a strong culture around the senior team, allowing players to relax in tournaments and handle the pressure that had often caused their predecessors to fail. He has put a lot of thought into the team’s base at each of the last four tournaments and also stress-free access for player families.
Mitchell will leave having played a significant role in three tournaments that saw England reach the semi-finals, finals and quarter-finals, the national team’s best run since 1966.
Powell joined the England staff as part of the FA and Professional Footballers’ Association elite placement scheme aimed at increasing managerial diversity. He has not renewed his contract. Southgate have made changes in the past between tournaments. Graeme Jones, signed for Euro 2020 after striker Allan Russell’s coach was forced to resign, was not signed after that tournament.
Former Netherlands striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is a candidate to replace Powell. A friend of Southgate since their Middlesbrough days together, the 50-year-old won 23 caps and played for Chelsea, Leeds United, Boro and others for a decade as an English soccer player. He has managed Burton Albion twice, Queens Park Rangers and Northampton Town, and is currently a Sky Sports pundit.
The squad Southgate names Thursday will involve some key decisions. Mason Mount has not played for Chelsea since February 26, but he is expected to recover soon. Raheem Sterling has also been injured. Ben Chilwell and Reece James, who missed the World Cup through injury, are back in contention.
A big decision must be made about Harry Maguire, who has started just one Premier League game since England’s quarter-final loss to France in Qatar on December 10. Fikayo Tomori and Morgan Gibbs-White are the candidates to be chosen. It remains to be seen what stance Southgate takes on Ivan Toney, the Brentford striker with 15 Premier League goals, currently third on the scoring charts this season. He also has 262 charges against him from the FA for alleged player breaches of the rules of the game.