Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Are there enough English managers in Football’s Top Flight?

The number 4 is a very crucial number that sums up everything wrong about English football at the minute. Forget the influx of foreign players or even foreign owners that don’t know anything about the game or how to run a football club. Instead take some time to consider how many managers in the Premier League are actually English? The answer is of course just 4; Ian Holloway, Harry Redknapp, Steve Bruce and Alan Pardew. Of course there are plenty more in the lower leagues, but out of 20 Premier League clubs only 1/5 are actually English. This is a horrendous amount when put into perspective against the other major leagues of Italy – 18 Italian managers out of 20, Germany – 16 German managers out of 18 and Spain – 16 Spanish managers out of 20.

Some may argue that the amount of domestic managers is irrelevant when the Premier League is the best in the World; whilst I tend to agree you have to look at the evidence that suggests otherwise. The recent Ballon D’or award boiled down to a final three of Iniesta, Xavi and eventual winner Messi, all of whom play in the La Liga and play for Barcelona, managed by the Spaniard Pep Guardiola. The best manager of the year award went to Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho and even the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, boasts that Spain has the best domestic league in the World, with the Premier League in second place.

It’s not just a lack of managers or coaches in the Premier League however, it’s a severe lack of coaches across the entirety of England. Before the World Cup only 2769 English coaches held a UEFA Pro Licence, which allows you to manage in the country’s top flight on a permanent basis and allows you to manage in the Champions League. Germany had 34,970, Italy 29,420, Spain 23,995, and even France had 17,000. The figures show a severe lack of depth within the English coaching system which affects the overall quality of a countries youth development and national team performance. The England National team for instance haven’t reached a final since 1966; Spain, Germany, France and Italy however, have been in a combined 8 finals since 1998 in the World Cup and Euro Cup.

With Fabio Capello to step down after the 2012 Euro Cup, the FA have already stated their intention to appoint an Englishman as manager of England, a wild idea considering the last one was Steve McClaren, but the past most successful England managers have been Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey, both of which were English, one of the them won us the World Cup.

The question is however which current English managers in the Premier League would take the England job and who would have success? Harry Redknapp is the obvious candidate and many wanted his appointment after the World Cup in South Africa last year, but would he take it now Spurs are becoming a dominant force in the League? Have Ian Holloway and Steve Bruce got the credentials or experience to even warrant being considered? Is Alan Pardew even worth mentioning? Then of course there’s the unemployed Roy Hodgson, probably one the most successful English managers without a job at the minute, but would he be welcomed as the next England manager?

Whoever it ends up being, we should wish them success and give them our support. Because with the way the Premier League is going at its current rate, English managers are going to be as hard to come by as decent English players in an import heavy league.

It would perhaps be of benefit to the ‘English’ way of playing football if more Englishmen were given chance to manage the bigger clubs in England, instead of owners getting managers who’ve had success abroad. However before that happens there has to be a drastic improvement on the standard of coaching and that begins at youth level. The quality of youth coaching is detrimental to the development of our national team and the development of coaches themselves, just look at Germany for proof.

English coaches need to improve drastically in order to even stand a chance of getting a Premier League job and for the England team to stand a chance of winning another major tournament. It’s a necessity though to create coaches that think beyond hoofing the ball 60m up towards Peter Crouch or Wayne Rooney otherwise the England team is going to continue to suffer the embarrassment that met them in South Africa over and over again.

As of right now we’re nowhere near solving the problem. The FA are striving to improve their coaching systems and are currently looking for more people to step into football coaching, focusing on youth development and working their way upwards. But for now all we can do is hope that the number of English Premier League managers begins to grow, we’ve fallen way behind other countries and whilst our clubs may continue to do really way, we need to consider the future of our National team for our country’s pride which has taken a substantial hit over the years.

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