Gareth Southgate has received a ringing endorsement from Football Association chairman Debbie Hewitt, who says the England manager’s IQ and emotional intelligence would make him a general manager in any industry.

Southgate has been criticized after a disappointing performance for the Three Lions in their four Nations League matches earlier this month, culminating in a 4-0 home defeat to Hungary.

The result has even sparked a debate over whether Southgate should be sacked ahead of the World Cup in Qatar which begins in November.

FA chair Debbie Hewitt thinks Southgate could work as chief executive in any part of the company (FA/PA handout)

Hewitt hailed Southgate’s role in transforming England’s fortunes on the pitch and fostering a healthy culture, and said she spoke to the England boss after the defeat to the Hungary to reassure him of the high regard he still held in the FA.

“My personal opinion of Gareth is that he is, by the facts on the pitch, the most successful England manager we’ve had in 55 years,” said Hewitt, who took over as FA chairman in January. .

“What people don’t see as much is the Gareth at camp and the culture he created.

“Certainly before Gareth was England manager there was no pride in wearing the England shirt. There were the club rivalries that we had heard about. not hear.

“He changed that beyond recognition and I saw it firsthand.

“I would also say that I don’t just work in football, I work in business and I’ve worked with many GMs and Gareth’s skill set – his high IQ and high EQ – would make him a GM in any sphere.

“That resilience and responsibility (are) the two qualities I admire the most. He has no sloping shoulders, he doesn’t blow, he’s tough and that’s what you want in an England manager.

Hewitt said Southgate’s response to his assurances was true to form.

    Gareth Southgate on the touchline
Southgate has been criticized after England’s disappointing performance in their four Nations League matches (Nick Potts/PA)

She added: “Gareth’s reaction, as with all that kind of conversation, is always ‘it’s my responsibility, and there’s always something to learn’.

“That’s why it’s refreshing to work with someone like that, because that openness to learning is quite remarkable and quite unusual in any field.”

Hewitt said any debate over the timing of the decision to award Southgate a new contract ahead of the World Cup was a “red herring”.

He signed a new contract last November which keeps him in place until the end of 2024.

“I don’t think we would have discussed (the contract) if we hadn’t had the recent run of games. Obviously we did it (we agreed on the new deal) with proper discussion and thought.

“The fact that there was a stumble doesn’t automatically make us say ‘should we have given him a contract?’ It’s a red herring.

“We have faith in Gareth for all the reasons I’ve described and I think that’s the most important thing. And it’s especially important to get into the biggest tournament.