In his WSJ column, Gabriele Marcotti brings up the dearth of British managers at the top of English football. Seven of the 20 Premier League managers are foreign. Sir Alex Ferguson is the only British manager among the so-called “Big Four.” Manchester City dumping Mark Hughes for Roberto Mancini seems only to exacerbate this trend.
Many in England believe this indicates domestic managers aren’t given a fair chance. As Marcotti notes, Harry Redknapp expressed this sentiment in his column for the Sun. “If any manager lower down the football pyramid believes they will get a big club…They won’t. They simply won’t get a look in. No chances will be taken.”
Such a sentiment is attractive, seemingly sensible, but ultimately ludicrous.
Viewing England’s top four as fixed entities is tempting and convenient, but it’s untrue. Alex Ferguson inherited Manchester United in the 1980s and built the team into a perennial fixture. Arsene Wenger did the same with Arsenal in the 1990s. These managers joined clubs with resources and potential and built them.
British managers have had similar opportunities.
Sam Allardyce accepted the job at Newcastle, a large, heavy-spending club. He failed and was finished by January.
Manchester City gave Mark Hughes a blank check. He spent hundreds of millions. He either bought poorly or managed the talent at his disposal poorly, but whatever he did it was poorly. He was fired.
Harry Redknapp, the author of the aforementioned quotation, has the opportunity this season to finish in the top four. He has been given ample talent. He has a favorable league position. He needs to lead them there.
Newcastle (before relegation), Manchester City and Tottenham were big jobs, similar to Arsenal and Man U once upon a time. The clubs are among the wealthiest in Europe. The resources are there. They just need to use them correctly.
The most prominent British managers, men like Hughes Redknapp and Allardyce, have had opportunities to get to the top. They didn’t take them.
British managers are not victims of structure. They need no subsidy. They just need to show ambition, take the initiative and perform better.