In a bygone era passed many moons ago, now serving only as a brief reminder for what could have been, England used to sport the likes of Terry Venables, Kevin Keegan and the late Bobby Robson in the nation’s, albeit flawed, attempts to restore our broken footballing reputation on the world stage.
Nowadays however, the thought of an English manager being considered ‘world class’ is simply an imaginary notion at best. Less than half of the teams in the Premier League are currently managed by an Englishman, and if Alan Pardew’s move to Crystal Palace goes through as expected, Sam Allardyce will become the longest serving English manager in the Premier League, despite only arriving at Upton Park in 2011.
In light of this news, what has happened to the overall standard of coaching in this country, and just where have all the ‘world class’ English managers really gone?
The biggest case in point surrounding this topic remains the current England manager himself – Roy Hodgson. The former Switzerland manager of the 1990’s was impressive at Fulham, but he categorically failed at Liverpool, and subsequently produced as average showing at West Brom. Does Hodgson’s recent Premier League record really warrant a call-up for the England job?
The answer is definitely no, but there really are few choices to pick from when selecting a good English manager. The creation of the ‘Premier League’ and the adoption of audience pay-per-view policies have poured so much money into the English game that foreign imports have become a necessity to keep certain wheels turning, and certain palms greased.
The excitement surrounding foreign players has led to further foreign investment in the English game, which has in turn created a huge increase in foreign managers. There is slowly becoming no place left for the honest English manager, who inevitably lacks the sensation and hype of his foreign counterparts, something that is now beginning to filter through the lower leagues as well.
As English managers have now started to be left out in 2014, they are being afflicted by a real lack of top-flight experience, which only serves to keep the same old stagnant faces in the big jobs. Without PL experience, it becomes an unfortunate eventuality that English managers start to lag behind what’s happening in the rest of Europe, and they actually start to be deemed no longer good enough.
Whilst this desperate notion hasn’t quite taken full force yet, the English style of play is another aspect to the nation’s coaching which is holding us back on the European scene. The likes of Harry Redknapp and Ian Holloway may prove the exception, but overall English managers are over-reliant on the long-ball and physical aggression. Big burley centre-forwards and defenders need to make room for a better class of player that has a clearer understanding of the game, and that all begins with coaching.
None of this has to be the case however. When taking over from the illustrious Michael Laudrup at the Liberty Stadium, Garry Monk has fully embraced himself within the footballing philosophy set up at Swansea, and is thriving as a result.
Overall it is clear that the situation is not completely desolate for English managers. There is still hope for this country that understands and loves football to a degree that is simply different from the rest of the continent.
Sacrifices will have to be made however, as if foreign investment and foreign players continue to take priority in the Premier League, the amount of English managers being labelled ‘world class’ will rightfully remain very, very low.