As the Premier League has moved from season-to-season, there has been a notable change within it. The top tier division in English football, once dominated by such revered British managers as Sir Alex Ferguson, Brian Clough, and Sir Matt Busby, is now looking far more diverse.
The number of foreign managers in the Premier League has risen considerably over the past 10 or so years. For instance, at the end of the 2006/07 campaign, there were a total of 15 British and Irish managers at the helm of clubs. When you compare this with the current campaign, the difference is quite remarkable.
As of the time of writing, there are 7 British managers in the Premier League. The latest British managerial casualty was Mike Phelan who was sacked by Hull City and replaced by Marco Silva.
The debate surrounding the decline in the presence of British managers has been at the forefront for some time and was brought up once again by Paul Merson on Soccer Saturday, who criticised the credentials of Silva and bemoaned the lack of British managers being given a chance in the Premier League.
A common counterargument to Merson’s argument, as brought up by the ever-sharp Geoff Stelling, is just where the British managers are going to come from. The typical answer to this is from the Championship. In that division, 16 of the 24 managers are British or Irish. However, only 2 of the top 6 sides are managed by British or Irish managers (Brighton and Hove Albion, and Leeds United).
As for the bottom 6 of the Championship, 4 of the bottom 6 are managed by British or Irish managers. What this means is that the remaining 8 are at clubs between 7th and 18th.
What all of this seems to indicate is that, while the quantity of British managers may be there to see, the quality necessarily isn’t. As well as that, as was seen when Steve McClaren, now at Derby County, took charge of Newcastle United, success in the 2nd tier does not necessarily guarantee success in the top tier.
Hell, Merson himself couldn’t come up with a British manager to be given in the Championship so, in an interview, he used Thierry Henry as the example instead.
On the other hand, if a foreign manager is viewed as being good enough to do a job, there is no reason for them not to be given the chance. Quite simply, if a British or Irish manager is good enough, they will be given the chance.
That’s not to say that there are not British and Irish managers out there that should be in the Premier League. Men such as Chris Hughton and, especially, Garry Monk are good enough to be in the top tier. The problem with those instances is that Hughton has every chance of guiding Brighton, who currently sit top of the Championship, to the Premier League, while Monk, who should have never been sacked by Swansea, is doing a remarkable job at Leeds and would be unlikely to give it up.
It has been far too easy to lay the blame of the lack of British manager sin the Premier League on the clubs themselves. The prospect of managing in that Premier League is such a draw that most managers across the world would manage in it. As a result of this, the talent required from British managers has risen. Unfortunately for purists, the talent of the managers themselves hasn’t evolved. The coaches just are not good enough and, such is the demand for instant success in football, those coaches don’t have the same time to develop as they once had.