Lineker compares England woe to Man City near misses and hopes for Southgate stay
Gary Lineker has outlined his hope Gareth Southgate remains with England, comparing their lack of World Cup success to Manchester City's failure to win the Champions League.
Southgate is considering his future after overseeing England's quarter-final exit against France, in which Harry Kane scored one penalty and missed another.
The Three Lions manager masterminded runs to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and the final of Euro 2020, but he has attracted criticism for failing to end the team's 56-year trophy drought.
However, former England striker Lineker believes Southgate's achievements mean he deserves the opportunity to make his own decision on his future.
"I do hope Gareth stays. I think it's right that the decision is down to him," Lineker told BBC Sport. "He's done a really good job, you've got to consider where we were a few years ago.
"Everyone thinks it's an easy job and everyone thinks: 'I'd have played him and not him, or brought him on earlier and not him'. It's very easy in hindsight.
"I think Gareth has done a really good job. The only thing you'd say about him is sometimes he hasn't changed things dramatically in games where it's not going well.
"It's very easy to be judgemental but World Cups are not leagues. In a league, the best team always wins. In a World Cup, it's a knockout."
England won praise for a series of positive displays in Qatar, recording their highest goal tally (13) at any major tournament (World Cup or European Championships).
England also had 57 per cent possession and managed twice as many shots as France (16 to eight) in their last-eight loss, leading Lineker to compare them to Pep Guardiola's Premier League champions.
Despite winning four Premier League titles in the past five seasons, City have suffered several shock eliminations from the Champions League under Guardiola, which Lineker says is proof knockout football does not always reward the best team.
"Take Manchester City, probably the best club side in the world, but they haven't won the Champions League and they haven't won it under Pep Guardiola, who is the best coach in the world," he added.
"No one would say, 'let's get Pep out because we haven't won the Champions League', because that would be madness.
"We haven't won the World Cup but we're going in the right direction. England are playing really good, attractive football with lots of exciting young players. Why would you mess with it now?"
Southgate must now weigh up whether to remain in charge for England's Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, which begins with a trip to Italy on March 23.