Roberto Mancini was in attendance at the first game of the Gareth Southgate England era and will be hoping to spoil his most important by far.

 

It has been a veritable and verified tournament treasure trove, the long-abandoned Twitter timeline of Gareth Southgate (NOT A PARODY). Save for one sudden update to wish the Yorkshire Jets Netball Superleague team the best of luck in their upcoming semi-final against Surrey Storm in April 2015 – they lost comfortably enough because such games are not supposed to be easy – the 50-year-old has seemingly not manned the account since a jovial back-and-forth with former teammates Ian Taylor and Mark Bosnich. One can only presume that is a coincidence.

Southgate was a year into his role as England Under-21 manager when he stopped telling the world about the brilliance of Yorkshire, the unrivalled supremacy of The Wetherby Whaler for fish and chips and his best 10km times. There is also a revealing message about future colleague Chris Powell (‘Great manner with the young players’) and thankfully nothing among his 2,875 tweets that might ever have required an embarrassing apology much later down the line.

It is a predictably clean five-year window into the mind of a thoroughly fine gentleman.

Roberto Mancini has taken a different approach to social media. His Twitter account was launched in January 2012 and remains active to this day, linking to his Instagram and Facebook pages while revelling in the Azzurri glory so far this summer. @Robymancio probably does not man the feed himself but he clearly believes it helps maintain the sort of connection with supporters that Southgate has fostered through his public speaking and suspiciously well-written articles on social matters.

One Mancini tweet from October 2016 shows football’s constantly revolving door at its absolutely mind-boggling best.

Almost five years before Neil Diamond and Atomic Kitten was being unashamedly bellowed out in union by tens of thousands of topless 40-year-old men sporting masks somewhere around the general face area, Mancini took to the Wembley stands upon FA invitation to a seemingly innocuous game. It is a story that would ordinarily have been lost to the depths of time, were it not for the fact that very match was Southgate’s first with the national team.

‘Roberto Mancini watches Gareth Southgate’s first game in charge of England at request of the FA’ reads the MailOnline headline enshrined as a timely reminder that half a decade can be an awful long time. He was treated, along with 81,780 others, to a 2-0 home victory over Malta courtesy of Dele Alli and Daniel Sturridge. Southgate’s interim reign had its forgettable start.

England were in an awful state: scrambling around to replace Sam Allardyce who himself had managed just one game before being caught in a storm that would cost him his job as Roy Hodgson’s successor in the aftermath of the Euro 2016 debacle. Mancini, who had left Inter Milan months prior to be usurped by fellow Euro 2020 managerial alumnus Frank de Boer, was one of many candidates being considered for a role Southgate stumbled into before finding his full stride.

It was a happy accident for both European Championship finalists. England have been made whole again and Italy appointed Mancini less than two years later; Sunday’s favourites have lost twice in 38 games since.

Having been in attendance for Southgate’s first game in charge of England, the man in the opposite dugout will be hoping to spoil his most important on Sunday. Mancini probably shouldn’t expect a ‘good luck’ tweet.





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