When Gareth Southgate was appointed England manager at the start of December, the assumption was that Steve Holland, his assistant for three years at both U21 level and as interim boss of the senior squad, will continue as well. It was understood that Holland would continue his dual role Chelsea and England (which had come under question from Spurs) until the end of the season, after which he would leave the Blues to join England full-time. This has now been confirmed, three weeks later.
Holland has been with Chelsea since 2009, first as the coach of the Reserves (with whom he won a national title), then getting promoted to assistant manager under Andre Villas-Boas in 2011. He’s continued in that role with all the managers who have come since and represented a sort of continuity behind the revolving door of the Chelsea hot seat.
“It is the ultimate honour to be asked to work with your national team into a World Cup campaign. My immediate focus is on continuing to support Antonio and the Chelsea team, and doing everything possible to finish the season with success. The summer will be the time to look forward to an exciting future with Gareth and England and to reflect on the best eight years of my life at Chelsea. For now the next game is Bournemouth.”
-Steve Holland; source: Chelsea FC
Holland’s importance to Southgate and England was underlined by them allowing the coach to see out the season at Chelsea, providing minimum distractions in what could be a very promising campaign for the Blues.
“If we want to be successful then we have to employ the best people and for me, Steve is the best.”
“We have worked very closely for three years and I have upmost respect for the way that he works, his professionalism and the detail of his preparation. I'd like to thank Chelsea for allowing Steve to join up with us over the last three years.”
“It's great that Steve is able to work with us on the March camp but getting him on a full-time basis is very important and I was more than prepared to wait until May for that to happen.”
-Gareth Southgate; source: BBC
Incidentally, Chelsea’s report includes the line that Holland “will not be replaced at Chelsea”. Whether that means the rest of this season or from next season on, or whether that’s meant to be taken literally or in a more allegorical sense, we will see in the summer. There had been rumors that the likes of Gianfranco Zola or perhaps one of our retiring legends or perhaps one of Conte’s old staff from Italy or Juventus would come in and make up the numbers, but maybe we’ll just keep that staff as is, but one less.
In any case, congrats Steve Holland! World Cup 2018 champions confirmed!