The England manager wants to pick the brains of stars from the frustrated era of David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand — and he has begun with canvassing the steely views of Paul Scholes.
“I read some comments from Frank that really resonated with me,” said Southgate, “and then I bumped into Paul at a golf event and we talked about his time in the international side.
“I was trying to pick his brain, and he admitted he didn’t quite play the same way for England as he did with his club. There’s something around feeling comfortable being comfortable with the environment.
“Paul mentioned that at Manchester United he knew when and where people were going to make the runs. He knew the type of service he was going to get and which passes to make. Part of the challenge with the international team is how do we get that?”
Southgate is currently preparing his team for the prestige World Cup qualifying match away to Scotland next weekend, where victory would keep England on course to reach the finals in Russia next summer.
Gareth Southgate wants to know more about what went wrong with England's 'Golden Generation'
Gareth Southgate has already spoken at length with Paul Scholes
The question then will be: Can England get past the quarter-final stage where the Golden Generation always stumbled?
England’s manager revealed he wants to expand his discussions to other celebrated players of that time, with Lampard at the head of the queue.
“I have read comments by him and it’s important to know what those guys felt,” said Southgate.
“They were players who won so much in their club careers on the biggest stages, but didn’t quite get where they wanted to with England. I’ve read Frank talking about playing in a way that was expected of them rather than the way that got the best from him.
“Why is that important to me? I’ve got to think about the environment I create for the players to allow them to be as good as they can be — and the tactical system as well. But it is probably the mind-set and environment as much as anything.
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“These are guys I respect hugely and the more insight I get into them the better. We can’t leave any stone unturned about what we can put in place.
“The key thing is that Paul Scholes, for example, had a view on what it was like to play for England compared to how it felt playing for his club. They are important things for me to find out.”
Ferdinand and Beckham are also on the hit-list for Southgate, and there is a possibility some of them could be more formal sessions with current players involved.
“We have always got to be thinking about passing on the stories of playing and what it meant, and the pride in playing for England,” said Southgate.
“There are messages around that — what they feel was good or might have been better. Some of that is good for players to hear, some is good for the younger players, and some is good for the coaches. I want the flexibility to bring the right people in for different areas of work or discussions.
“It’s important that we get the best out of high potential of the players we’ve got. None of them are at the level of Scholes yet, and it’s important we recognise that as well.
One of the finest days of Scholes’ time with England was scoring twice in a 2-0 win at Hampden against Scotland in a play-off for Euro 2000.
How England would love a repeat of that result now.
Southgate, though, is expecting a difficult encounter, far tougher than the comfortable victory at Wembley earlier this season in Group F.
“The performances of Scotland in March were different to those before Christmas,” said the England boss. “There was more energy and their victory against Slovenia kept the group alive for them.
“Not only do they have the motivation of beating England but the motivation of qualifying. My experience tells me we can expect a really tough game. There are plenty of factors we have to be prepared for at Hampden, but I do have huge belief in the players. They have to be ready for a challenge and ready for a proper game.”
Victory would keep England four points clear at the top of the Group F table with four matches remaining, away to minnows Malta and Lithuania, and with home fixtures against Slovakia and Slovenia.