I SUPPOSE most football people will be watching the World Cup final tomorrow and unfortunately, England will not be in it.

The result against France, which ended in a 2-1 quarter-final defeat, halted our progress. It has made us wonder what will happen next with the European Championship in 18 months’ time?

I suppose the FA will have to sort out whether Gareth Southgate is going to carry on because he is reportedly considering his future.

I think he would have to make a decision sooner or later because, with preparations for the next tournament, someone will have to work out how many of the present squad will still be fit to start at that level – and need time to test that sort of thing out.

I think the average age of the England squad is not too old but if there is to be a new manager, he would have to work out which of the younger players can make it to first-team level.

It would appear that the FA would like Gareth to stay on but it could be that Gareth could be missing the day-to-day involvement you get at club level.

I wouldn’t have thought he wants to pack in the game altogether, but it could be that club management could be calling him for a job. Instead of having a game every month or two, you could have two every week.

The supporters I think would have accepted our World Cup performances but will totally expect to at least get to the final of the Euros.

The problem any England manager has nowadays from when I was involved with Graham Taylor, is that there are more foreign players in the Premier League than English in starting XIs.

Having said all of that, let’s get back to the final between Argentina and France.

Lionel Messi, who is usually in the media as being called the best player in the world at present, has a wonderful record.

I couldn’t believe this is the fifth World Cup he has played in and, despite being 35-years-old, will still carry on playing club football after this tournament.

When some people say he could be the best player ever, with due respect, how far do they go back? When I was a youngster, English players like Stanley Matthews were looked up to by every country and there were many other names as well.

As well as Messi, full marks to Morocco, who got as far as the semi-final – bearing in mind most people never knew football was played at international level at such a high standard there.

They will get a wonderful welcome home because reaching the semi-final would have been something they would have never believed before the tournament started.

Everything in sport has changed over time and I think the start of the Premier League altered everything and altered it on a global scale.

Before that, Saints supporters may remember people like Ivan Golac and Ivan Katilinic, who I signed. They were born in Yugoslavia.

I had never seen them or heard of them previously, but an old friend of mine called Tommy Lawrence, who had been a top player at amateur level, had a travel company and kept in touch with people he had met on coaching courses, like myself.

He would get clubs trips abroad which were paid for by friendlies.

His staff were mainly travelling round Europe to arrange pre-season trips for English clubs. He would ring people like me up and say ‘by the way when I was in this country, I saw they had a terrific full-back’ and he gave you their contact details. That’s how it started with Golac and Katalinic. 

I did not want to just sign them until I saw them myself. Their clubs were helpful and even allowed them to come for a few weeks on loan so they could come to England.

It wasn’t so much whether they could play, it was working out can they settle into a new country? If they were married, could his partner leave their families behind?

That was partly the start of it and it makes you realise how the game is global now. Top players around Europe now look at which country they could ever be transferred to. 

The top English clubs have scouting and recruitment staff who can go to their country and watch them before managers are informed this is who they should get.

Also showing how the game has changed now. Money is always a big thing.

Saints’ neighbours Bournemouth have announced they have been taken over by a group led by American businessman Bill Foley, who already has an ice hockey team in Las Vegas. He is now coming into football.

Hi group has purchased the club for around £120million. He is obviously very sport-minded with his already established purchases – it will be very interesting to see how Bournemouth get on.

Looking at the league table, Bournemouth and Saints are both in the bottom seven, which needs to be sorted out. I am sure the managers and coaches will be aware of that.

Gary O’Neil at Bournemouth, who has just been appointed permanently, will want to impress the new owner. He would not want to be putting so much into the club if, at the end of the season, they get relegated.