By Shaun Davey
First and foremost, the issue is time. Football is plagued with the attitude that it is a results business. Each club’s hierarchy strive for quick success; and why shouldn’t they?
They’ve spent or invested millions of pounds, but in hindsight its clear to see that foreign ownership may be an indicator of why so many British managers are being squeezed out of the game, in the search for instant prosperity.
This reluctance was clear for all to see surrounding the recent managerial vacancy at Swansea City. It was reported that former Manchester United man Ryan Giggs was ‘snubbed’ for the Swans job after an ‘underwhelming interview’. A lack of managerial experience was quoted as one of the reasons for his failure; but is this not a recurring, rhetorical theme that whispers up and down the English football leagues?
If we look as Swansea as a prime example; they parted company with Gary Monk last season – a decision that infuriated some of their fan base – and replaced him with Francesco Guidolin.
In all fairness, the Italian kept the Swans up last year but inadvertently was removed from his duties after just seven games into this campaign. The bookies favourite and former Welsh legend Ryan Giggs was shortlisted to take over the reigns and some saw it as an ‘ideal fit’ for the club.
However, despite holding crunch talks with chairman Huw Jenkins regarding the role, the club’s US-based owners opted for the former USA boss, Bob Bradley. Therein lies the problem. Giggs, although inexperienced as a head coach, knows the Premier League whereas Bradley becomes the first American to try his luck in the top tier of English football. The move is something of a gamble and the sort of move that is becoming part of a continuing algorithm thrust within the English game.
This idea that foreign influx offers something different to what a British manager can is debatable and can be viewed in numerous ways. You only have to look at a club like Liverpool and view the impact of Jurgen Klopp. The charismatic German has given the club, even the city a lift and it is doubtful whether a similar impact would have been visible from a British manager. Would Alan Pardew or Eddie Howe, two capable English manager, have given them such a lift?
Often, clubs do not gamble due to money. Managers in Britain are generally given more control than in other countries. The best managers in the world want to come and try their luck in the Premier League, and this combination of factors limits the opportunities for British coaches.
So where do they go? They try their luck down the lower leagues, with the hope of breaking into the wealthy elite of the Premier League. The proof is there. British managers succeed in the lower leagues, with Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe being a prime example. Yet it can be difficult to break the label as a ‘lower league manager’. The likes of Steve Bruce, Neil Warnock and Mick McCarthy have regularly succeeded at a lower level, earning numerous promotions to the top flight.
In the case of Bruce, he has often enjoyed creditable success in the Premier League, but for whatever reason the big jobs have not come calling.
Some work their way up and take the opportunities on offer such as Howe at Bournemouth. But for every Eddie Howe, there is a David Moyes, a Gary Neville, and to, some extent even a Roy Hodgson.
Numerous British managers in such a mould seem to fail when they get the lucrative jobs, and until a British manager succeeds on a national and European stage, the trend for them to get overlooked will almost certainly continue.