Gareth Southgate will attend Super Bowl LII in Minnesota on Sunday evening and the England manager believes he can learn a lot from watching the NFL.
Southgate has been Stateside this week as part of a Leaders in Sport gathering and he has also visited the Minnesota Vikings’ new practice facility, as well as attending Saturday’s NBA game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the New Orleans Pelicans.
On Sunday the Three Lions boss will be at U.S. Bank Stadium to see if New England can defeat the Philadelphia Eagles and win a sixth Super Bowl title in 17 years.
“I think it’s always difficult to go against people with big match experience in finals,” Southgate said. “My experience of finals is that there’s a level of performance that you’re capable of hitting and very often people think you’ve got to find a level above that to win a final, and actually getting as close to your normal level as possible is normally enough because people freeze on big occasions or the distractions of the whole week are detrimental to the performance.
“Normally those guys with the big-match experience that have been through it, it’s a big, big advantage. I don’t know what Philadelphia have in their camp to be able to deal with that but for me, that’s why it’s hard to go against the Patriots really.”
Southgate, 47, developed an interest in the NFL watching it on Channel 4 when he was growing up but, while his current role’s demands make keeping track of the sport more difficult, he revealed a number of England personnel had also travelled in order to see how the NFL operate.
“One of the reasons some of our guys have travelled is to see how the NFL operate because we don’t have to do things the way they’ve always been done, we can try different things that work,” Southgate said.
“I think sometimes around major tournaments the relationships between our guys and the media has been a bit confrontational and I don’t think it has to be that way. So this [Super Bowl] seems very open, a lot more relaxed, there seems to be a lot more respect between people.
“If you keep always doing what you’ve always done you get the same results.
“The fascination for me is, yes, the occasion, but also watching the coaches on the side and the defensive strategies and attacking strategies of the teams, so there’ll be so much that I’m looking forward to watching as well as just the game and the outcome.
“All of the coaches have been speaking about the details of what is going on and you’re always thinking about how it might relate to your sport.”
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.