I watched Gareth Southgate's boring Middlesbrough - now he's done the same with England

I've been reminded recently of what happened while I was working on local radio with our Three Legends programme. Bernie Slaven was the Middlesbrough legend and he was always banging on about how drab and defensive his old club had become.

So one day I said to him: "Why don't I come down and have a look for myself." He readily agreed and off we went in tandem. Bernie was right: Boro were boring. They tried to hold on to what they had.

And who was their manager? Gareth Southgate, who has just turned England into Boro! I recalled it this last week when I watched England for the third successive time at the Euros and was both depressed and irritated by what was going on.

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People forget that Southgate was hardly a roaring success in club management. He had three seasons at Boro _ they finished 12th in the Premier League, then 13th, and finally were relegated. By the following October in the Championship Steve Gibson sacked Gareth.

Honestly, I'm reminded of those days when I watch England now but this is even more outrageous because Southgate has such an array of attacking talent at his disposal. He is so negative, so cautious that he has turned quality players into a shadow of themselves.

Phil Foden is a No.10 who is operating on the left wing. Declan Rice is a box to box aggressor at Arsenal who is currently locked into a defensive straitjacket. And Harry Kane is a 40-goal centre-forward who has had one shot in four and a half hours of tournament football and scored one goal.

I used to watch him drop deep at Tottenham but when he did Son went beyond and Harry would hit him with one of those long devastating passes. Now when Kane drops deep no one is making those runs.

Then there is the case of Anthony Gordon. If he doesn't start on Sunday then Southgate will deserve everything that is coming his way. The lad has had a magnificent season but waiting until the last minute of the last group match to get him on the pitch was an insult.

Yet in one run he went past the full-back and stretched play in a way which had never happened before.

Southgate is actually a lucky man. Despite playing with the handbrake on England were able to survive from the easiest group in the whole tournament and then unbelievably have been handed Slovakia with Martin Dubravka in goal for their last 16 opponents. It is the best draw on the cards.

You would think a snow plough had been used to clear a path to the final England have had so much luck. All the heavy hitters are in the other half of the draw.

Southgate can pull off the impossible if only he is brave enough but will he? I wouldn't bet on it.

He ought to go for broke. He has nothing to lose. The fans have already deserted him. If I were him I would play Foden at No.10 on Sunday with Cole Palmer on the right of Kane and Gordon on the left. I would instruct Rice to play him normal game. Throw open the window and let some fresh air in.

That doesn't mean going gung-ho but we ought not to be afraid of Slovakia for goodness sake. They ought to be terrified of playing us but I bet they are not.

When I sit down in front of the telly on Sunday with my tea on a tray I don't want to be watching the Boro of old but the Newcastle United of today. Come on Gareth, give us all a break Including your own players.