Are we seeing a potential renaissance for British managers in the Premier League?

It has certainly been an interesting Premier League season so far and just 11 matches into the campaign, we have already seen four managers get the sack.

Three out of those four – Frank de Boer, Ronald Koeman and Slaven Bilic – are not British, yet two of them have been replaced by British bosses – Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace and David Moyes at West Ham – while another in David Unsworth is currently in caretaker charge of Everton.

With Burnley and Brighton and Hove Albion –managed by Sean Dyche and Chris Hughton respectively – currently the best of the rest outside the top six as we head into the international break, it seems as though we are seeing something of a renaissance for British managers.

Just a few years ago, Premier League clubs – again, outside of the top six – were willing to take that risk and appoint a foreign boss as they believed they were more effective tactically and would implement a style that would not only bring great success, but would also entertain the supporters and keep them happy.

It was a strategy that has worked for some of those clubs over the last few years – think Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton, Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City and Bilic in his first season with West Ham – but that success has dwindled since the beginning of the 2016/17 campaign.

The likes of Bilic, Koeman, Ranieri and even current Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino have struggled tactically, and failed to pick up good results all while their teams haven’t been playing attractive football.

Bilic was sacked on Monday after West Ham slipped into the relegation zone, but rather than target a manager from abroad the club decided to quickly appoint David Moyes on Tuesday despite his failures with Manchester United and Sunderland in the Premier League previously.

Meanwhile, Everton placed David Unsworth in caretaker charge after Koeman was relieved of his duties last month, and two of the frontrunners to take that job on a permanent basis are Sam Allardyce and Dyche.

The latter has enjoyed an outstanding campaign with Burnley – who lie seventh in the Premier League standings – and as well as picking up some impressive results he has shown that he is stronger tactically than many of the foreign managers he has come up against.

Just last weekend his side picked up a 1-0 win against Southampton at St Mary’s, and despite not having much of the ball Dyche sensed that his team could get all three points against the goal-shy Saints, showing his intentions by putting on two strikers in the 65th minute having previously played with one up top.

At the very same time, Pellegrino replaced top goalscorer Manolo Gabbiadini with Charlie Austin to keep with a lone centre-forward.

Just 16 minutes later one of those substitutes – Sam Vokes – headed in what proved to be the winner and it was certainly a big win tactically for Dyche, who pulled off the same scoreline against an under-fire Koeman at Goodison Park the previous month.

It is no surprise therefore that he is being targeted by Everton, who know that his experience and organisational skills means that while he may not be the high-profile name that the supporters would be expecting, he would be a safe appointment.

The fact that British managers can be seen as tactically adept as well as safe is important, and while clubs seemed to focus on style of play in the past it seems getting results and ensuring that they stay in the affluent Premier League is almost more important now.

Just look at Crystal Palace. Chairman Steve Parish wanted the Eagles to have a more attractive playing style when he appointed De Boer during the summer, but four defeats out of four with no goals saw the Dutchman given the boot.

The pressure of potentially dropping down to the Championship had got to Parish and he decided to go with a ‘safe’ replacement in the form of Hodgson, who had done well at similarly-sized clubs like Fulham and West Bromwich Albion previously.

To look at it from a more subjective point of view, you could say that the likes of West Ham and Everton are ready to go with Moyes, Dyche or Allardyce because they can’t get the established names like Carlo Ancelotti and Thomas Tuchel that they would prefer, and they don’t want to appoint a middle-of-the-road name like Pellegrino seems to be at Southampton.

Not everything is going right for British managers in the top flight either; Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth, Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion and Mark Hughes’ Stoke City have all had rather underwhelming starts to the campaign, while Hodgson has failed to turn things around with Palace so far after picking up four points from his seven matches at the helm.

Added into the mix is Craig Shakespeare, who was sacked by Leicester following a dismal run of form and replaced by Claude Puel, while foreign managers like Marco Silva, Rafa Benitez and David Wagner are impressing at Watford, Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town respectively.

So, while we are seeing something of renaissance for British managers in the Premier League, not everything is rosy and many still have a lot to prove.

In fact, how well Hodgson, Moyes and Allardyce – if he gets the Everton job – fare this season will be pivotal as to how clubs outside of the top six view appointing a British boss in the future.

 


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