Bad cop who’s thick as thieves with Southgate: Steve Holland has been Gareth’s right-hand man for EIGHT YEARS, runs the England training sessions and is his tactical sounding board driving their Euro 2020 glory bid
- Steve Holland’s role in England’s success at Euro 2020 can’t be underestimated
- Gareth Southgate uses his right-hand man as a sounding board to pick his teams
- Holland is the key figure on the training pitch and is well-liked among the players
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here
Steve Holland must be one hell of a poker player. England’s assistant is one of the hardest men to read at St George’s Park and gives very little away to his players.
There’s almost a fear factor when it comes to Holland. He keeps players guessing and has them on edge. Not one to get caught up in emotion, Gareth Southgate’s right-hand man is the hard-as-nails driving force within the coaching set-up. A quiet and unassuming man, when he talks the players, and Southgate, listen.
If Wembley erupts on Wednesday after England (hopefully) score, you won’t see Holland indulging in congratulatory cuddles and back slapping. He’ll make an immediate beeline to Southgate instead.
Steve Holland (left) is Gareth Southgate’s right-hand man and a huge asset for England
As the nation goes wild, Holland will be the coolest head of all. His post-goal debriefs have become a feature of England’s euphoric run to the semi-finals.
The buck stops with Southgate, but the England boss is heavily influenced by Holland’s opinion and uses the 51-year-old as a sounding board for his tactics and team selections.
Holland’s power in the England set-up is not restricted to private meetings with Southgate and other members of the coaching team, either. The former Chelsea coach takes almost every training session. Southgate will always be a major influence at St George’s Park, but Holland is undoubtedly an authoritative figure.
Southgate is known to be the more light-hearted of the two. It’s almost your typical good-cop-bad-cop duo. Following the opening-game win over Croatia at Wembley, Holland is understood to have reprimanded England’s players for completing a lap of honour.
That’s him in a nutshell: no airs or graces, just football. Or more precisely, winning. He has little time for egos either: discipline is the minimum he expects.
The players have warmed to Holland’s persona despite this. They like his dry sense of humour and his mean streak. There’s a self-deprecating side to Holland, too, which is entirely endearing.
Southgate is heavily influenced by Holland’s opinion on what tactics and players to go with
‘I had 17 years working in football at Crewe in a variety of roles and then I got the job at Chelsea,’ he said in an interview earlier in the tournament. ‘I walked into Chelsea on the first day and I’ve got Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and John Terry.
‘The next day I was working with Carlo Ancelotti. I’m taking them and there’s a Champions League game and I’ve got this group.
‘There isn’t a course that can prepare you for that. I would like to think I adjusted over time and became good in the role, but I was probably not ready at the start.’
Unquestionably one of the premier English coaches and tactical minds of his generation, Holland commands instant respect. Players are said to find his sessions innovative and creative. The detail Holland goes into during pre-match tactical drills is meticulous.
Holland’s role in England’s euphoric run to the semi-finals cannot be underestimated
Holland knows the price of failure, of course. His eight years at Chelsea left an indelible mark. The club ethos still remains today: be successful or be sacked.
It’s those experiences at Stamford Bridge that have been a key driver in Southgate and Holland instilling a winning mentality within the England set-up.
Winning comes at a price, though. Hours a day spent on the road travelling to matches up and down the country to watch players. During the past 18 months, Southgate and Holland regularly watched six games per weekend between them.
The ex-Chelsea coach runs training and players are said to find his sessions innovative
When they weren’t in the car or in the stadiums, they held regular zoom calls. When St George’s Park was allowed to re-open, Southgate and Holland were among the first back through the doors.
Holland nonetheless paid tribute to the rest of Southgate’s team earlier in the tournament, saying: ‘We have a staff that all contribute. It would be wrong for me to say this is a me and Gareth gig.
‘Gareth has to accept the full responsibility in the end, he knows what comes with that and he makes the final call. But I’m eight years with Gareth now. Very rarely are we a million miles apart.’
They spend so much time together, physically or virtually, that it comes as little surprise.
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