Management is all-encompassing. That’s something I’ve learned since starting this job. I find it very difficult to switch off. I can be at the cinema or out for a meal with my wife, and I’m thinking constantly about what my players are doing. How are they playing? Are they fit? Are they doing their recovery?
People say to me: “Just switch your phone off today.”
But, actually, as a manager you’ve got to be contactable 24 hours a day. You’ve got to be there for every single player. If you get that right, then you have a group of players who know that this is an England staff that cares about them – as players, but as people as well.
We’ve been through a lot over the last 16 months. We’ve had ups and we’ve had real downs, both on and off the field. But at the end of the day, if I’m playing for a manager who I know cares about me, then I’m going to give more.
The bigger the challenge for my players so far, the more that they’ve stepped up. The more that they’ve enjoyed, the better they’ve performed. So, we go into the World Cup with a team full of confidence and belief. And with no fear.
I’ve been out running a lot lately. Thinking a lot. I already know what I’m going to say to the players before our opening game against Scotland. I know my team for that game, too. Just as I know my team for the next game against Argentina, and Japan after that. I like to prepare. To have a vision about how a game is going to go. And I like to get those pictures in my head early. To be decisive.
So, I know exactly what I’m going to say at what moment. I just hope it works.
Tracey was right: this is the biggest and best thing I have ever done. It’s the absolute pinnacle for me.
I can’t wait to stand on that touchline.