The 52-year-old coach has guided the Three Lions to back-to-back semi-final appearances at major tournaments, though they lost in the last four to Croatia at the 2018 World Cup and were beaten in the final of last summer’s Euros by Italy.
Southgate signed a contract extension last year that will keep him in the job until December 2024, though there have been growing suggestions that he might step away after the upcoming tournament in Qatar.
Carragher feels that might be the best move for all parties despite praising the job Southgate has done, with the Liverpool legend fearing that the England boss is now being hampered by unrealistic expectations and unfair criticism of his playing style.
‘If I was Gareth Southgate, I would make the Qatar World Cup my swansong as England manager,’ wrote Carragher in his column for The Telegraph.
‘Hopefully England will produce to a strong enough level to ensure that is Southgate’s call.
‘After his excellence in the job to this point, the least he deserves is to leave on his own terms when he feels the time is right.
‘He is intelligent enough to have sensed a mood shift over the last few months, even if some of the negativity surrounding him during the build-up to the tournament is a joke.’
He continued: ‘Southgate’s problem heading into this year’s tournament is an undercurrent of negativity about his approach has taken hold and it is difficult to see how he reverses it without actually winning the World Cup.
‘It is unreasonable to suggest he should change course from the formula that took England so far in their last two competitions. He has not failed to get the most of a talented squad, as some argue. He has overperformed with a very good bunch.’
He added: ‘Walking away from the job would be the most difficult decision of Southgate’s career and I am sure his sole focus is on the next month. It was only last year he signed an extension until 2024 to remove any speculation before heading to Qatar.
‘The natural cycle should be for a rethink every four years so a coach builds towards the next World Cup. Unless Southgate has the energy for that, it is wiser to step away.
‘Southgate may win over the doubters for a third time over the next few weeks. My hope for Qatar is England to again retain interest in the competition until the final week to give Southgate the option of leaving the job through the front door with his head held high.’
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