Harry Redknapp is the latest Premier League manager to raise concerns over the increasing impact of foreign managers in the English game. Mark Hughes has been replaced at Manchester City by the Italian, Roberto Mancini, and that means there are now seven non-British managers in the Premier League (3 Italians, 2 Spaniards, a Frenchman and an Israeli). But is Redknapp right to be concerned? Are talented, young, British managers being overlooked in favour of more glamorous continental appointments?
It should first be acknowledged that no man should be given a job based on his nationality; football clubs are businesses and as such when a manager is appointed it should be because he is considered to the best man available to do the job. Foreign coaches have had an increasing impact on the Premier League, both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho have left their imprints on the English game. But there are talented British managers around; Martin O’Neill, Owen Coyle, Steve Bruce and David Moyes are all highly thought of. But will any of them be considered if an opportunity arises at one of the ‘Big Four’.
When Chelsea were looking for a man to take over after Hiddink’s caretaker stint, there were few British names mentioned. David Moyes was talked about more in the media than anywhere else and the job eventually went to Carlo Ancelotti. This was no huge surprise, Ancelotti has history of winning trophies and Moyes doesn’t; but this is only because Moyes has been stranded at Everton where financial restraints prevent him from really building a side capable of winning trophies. When a job next becomes available in the ‘Big Four’ the names linked with the posts will all be foreign; Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klinsmann and Guus Hiddink. As well as having some of the best players, the Premier League is attracting some of the best managers in the world. There is an argument that the majority of British coaches are not yet good enough to manage at the very top level, there is a reason that the FA turned to Fabio Capello to take charge of England. But the managers that do have talent must be given opportunities to develop their skills; at present Italian coaches are thought to be the best in the world; the likes of Ancelotti, Lippi, Trapattoni and Capello are seen as the leaders in their field because of the time that they have spent at the world’s top clubs.
Perhaps for British coaches to develop, they should start exploring opportunities on the continent. David Moyes is unlikely to find a better job in the UK (he cannot wait for Sir Alex Ferguson to retire forever, especially considering Mourinho is also thought to have his eye on the position); a move to another league may be the best way forward. In the Spanish, German and Italian leagues, the Champions League qualifiers change every year; there is ample opportunity for a talented British coach to take a mid-table side in Italy or Germany and turn them into a Champions League qualifier.
Redknapp is right to worry about the future of British coaches as foreign owners seem to prefer foreign coaches. Mancini was chosen to take over at City despite having virtually no experience of the English league. Mourinho, Mancini and Ancelotti all have a certain swagger and style about them that seems to delight owners of football clubs; British managers will find it increasingly difficult to land the top jobs; perhaps Steve Bruce & co need to start taking fashion advice from the continentals to increase their appeal.