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Gareth Southgate: Insightful Manager

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If Gareth Southgate wasn’t manager of the England football team, he would manage Insightful UX.

I don’t get to say that about everyone.

You see, three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and England losing a penalty shootout at the World Cup. This year, though, an unfamiliar feeling has swept a nation: we won a shootout?!

England’s triumph, however, is not just dumb luck. Months of preparation by Gareth Southgate’s side has propelled them into the limelight. But let me tell you, I’ve seen these tactics before: I guarantee that Southgate uses the same methods we use in our digital strategies to achieve amazing results. Here’s why the England manager could be an Insightful UX man:

1. Insight first…

Gareth Southgate’s England team didn’t start around sentimentality. There was no sign of Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart nor Jack Wilshere in his 23-man squad. Those channels weren’t working hard enough or generating results. Instead, Southgate picked around league form.

“I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” he said in an interview with the FA. But no! He ignored subjectivity and ego, then dove straight for the cold hard data.

Through the stats available to him, Gareth was able to objectively select the best team for the job. And, as a result, we’ve seen the meteoric rise of young players like Kieran Trippier and Harry Maguire. Not a bad start.

2. … Then action!

As we all know, England sucks at penalties. We’re talking 14% win rate from shootouts here. Rather than plodding down the same stubborn path, Southgate instilled his/our insight-first approach on his players, too.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford studied his Colombian opponents meticulously in preparation for a penalty shootout. He had this to say about Colombia’s fourth penalty taker:

“I did a bit of research and we knew Bacca was a weak link on the penalties because we had watched previous ones… I trusted my instinct and went that way.”

He even wrote each player’s favoured side onto his water bottle to help him prepare. Armed with facts, he could make an informed decision and save the most important shot of the game. Another win for tactics.


LOOK AT TRENDS AND TRUST YOUR DATA. Insightful’s in the business of validation; we build digital strategies and actions based on careful research. Speculating is for the losers. An insight-first approach brings our clients great results every single time… and hopefully it’ll bring home the World Cup too.

Gaz – if you’re reading this – I’m extending the olive branch. With your tactical mind, you’ve always got a career with us at Insightful UX. But in the meantime, you’ve got a job to do.

Good luck, boss.

Written by
Angela Barnard

Angela Barnard

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