The overwhelming impression was of a man entirely comfortable in his own skin. Gareth Southgate spoke with logic and humour but, most of all, he left the unmistakable sense that Englands manager may know a bit more about this level of football than some people realise. The only thing that bothers me is that everybody keeps asking me about the pressure, he said. Thats when I start to think: Bloody hell, maybe Im not seeing what it should be. If I felt underprepared, if we were not ready and wed spent the last 10 days flapping about who should be in, I would probably feel more anxious.

Instead, he and his staff have held a meeting every Monday to discuss his World Cup squad, the various back-up options and all the logistics of preparing for a major tournament. Small details, in many cases, right down to whether the players should avoid the misery of Twitter and inviting a psychologist to join them in Russia. Dr Pippa Grange, who will travel with the squad, has presumably been warned to expect some resistance from one or two players. To quote Jamie Vardy when Leicester Doug Williams Jersey City did something similar: Theres no point putting a psychologist in front of me because he wont get inside my head.
The players will meet on Sunday but, first things first, Southgate has given them permission to go on holiday this week with no rules attached. Was that a risk bearing in mind some of the headlines Englands footballers have attracted before other tournaments? Before Euro 96 I had three days in Magaluf with Aston Villa, Southgate explained, so it would be a bit hypocritical for me to discuss what the correct preparation was. Everything in a footballers life these days is fill this bloody form in. Theres a danger we overfill them with professionalism and doing the right thing. They need a switch-off and I dont see an issue. Im not interested in what they do over the next few days.
Southgate kept his memories of Magaluf to himself but there was a giveaway smile. I went for a run on a couple of mornings, he said. Though it might have been a run back home, rather than a run.
To put it another way, the England manager intends to take the unusual step of treating his players like adults. Again, its the small details, such as allowing them to leave Englands base camp in Repino to visit St Petersburg without feeling the need to call out a search party.
Other managers would impose curfew times or restrict access to mobile phones. I dont like loads of rules, Southgate countered. The players are responsible enough, they know whats expected. Sometimes, if they have their phones that means they spend time together, looking at videos and interacting. If they havent, they just rush back to their rooms.
In Fabio Capellos days as manager, the Football Association issued an official code of conduct rationing the time players spent on video or computer games, as well as banning them from making comments on social media unless it was authorised. Quietly, that has been abolished under Southgates tenure. He will, however, warn his players that Twitter can be an instant mood-killer. Personally Im not sure theres value to reading the comments that come in, he said. It comes back to what creates pressure, or what creates misery, in your life. Generally, theres a lot of Carl Davis Jersey social media that can be negative, so why invite that into your life?
Southgate has not put a message on Twitter since April 2015 and seems perfectly happy to have made the break. I cant ban them [the players] from looking at it because who knows what theyre doing when they go to their room? But I would make the suggestion: Is it a good idea to read all that [abuse]? If you can rationalise it, accept it and put it in its own place, then fine. But I dont know too many people who can. Even if there are 50 good replies, you cant help but think about the one bugger who gives you advice you dont want to hear.