England’s players did their best to secure the manager’s job for Gareth Southgate on Tuesday night. 2-0 up against a Spain side littered with top-class players, England appeared to be cruising towards an impressive victory. But late defensive lapses allowed Spain to peg them back as the game ended 2-2.

Up until the final ten minutes, England had produced a strong display of counter-attacking Football, characterised by the pace of man-of-the-match Jamie Vardy, Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard up front. Their performances provided the vindication of Southgate’s considered selection against Spain’s possession-based style.

The draw against Spain marked the end of Southgate’s four-match audition to become permanent manager. His reign began with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Malta, followed by a 0-0 draw in Slovenia and then Friday’s clinical 3-0 win over Scotland.

Southgate has surely done enough

Captain Wayne Rooney threw his support behind Southgate following Friday’s victory, which was symbolic of the high regard in which Southgate is clearly held among the squad. He has managed many of them at under-21 level, suggesting that he is best-placed to take what is a largely a young team forward.

Southgate’s calmness and assurance have won over many fans and media experts. He has been dignified throughout his brief spell in charge, allowing supporters to move on from a disastrous Euro 2016 under Roy Hodgson followed by Sam Allardyce’s farcical 67-day reign.

But he has also shown a ruthless streak. He did what no previous manager has been willing to do and dropped Rooney during a period of poor form. In leaving Rooney out, Southgate demonstrated that he will not shy away from big decisions.

He has repeatedly called for more players to be leaders in order to take the burden off Rooney.

A lack of leadership was painfully evident in England’s embarrassing loss to Iceland at Euro 2016.

Very few alternatives

Though lacking managerial experience at club level (he has only previously spent three years in charge of Middlesbrough), Southgate has enjoyed recent success with England’s under-21 team. He guided them to victory in the Toulon tournament earlier this year.

Besides, experience is not necessarily a recipe for success. Just ask Hodgson or Allardyce. Their failures have left England with an alarming lack of homegrown candidates for the manager’s job. Apart from Southgate, Eddie Howe is the only Englishman linked with the role.

He has been the driving force behind AFC Bournemouth’s remarkable rise from the bottom of League Two to mid-table in the Premier League. He also has a philosophy based around attacking football, which is sure to please supporters. However, at 38, he is younger than Southgate (46) and has little experience outside Bournemouth to date.

Among foreign candidates, Arsène Wenger would undoubtedly be a popular choice. He has recently completed 20 years at Arsenal and his contract runs out in 2017.

His wealth of experience and excellent track record with developing players make him an ideal choice. But is he a realistic target? At best, he wouldn’t be available until next summer and he is showing few signs of wanting to leave Arsenal.

Southgate has brought a sense of stability to the job despite his interim title, exactly what was needed after a summer of turbulence. That alone is likely to persuade the FA to give him a chance as permanent manager ahead of the 2018 World Cup.