With Norwich City’s remarkable promotion to the Premier League under the stewardship of Paul Lambert, it will raise the number of Premier League managers born in and around Glasgow in Scotland to seven. If Nottingham Forest are successful in the play-offs, Billy Davies will make that number eight.
At the moment, the Glasgow boys are Sir Alex Ferguson, Alex McLeish, David Moyes, Owen Coyle, Steve Kean and Kenny Dalglish. At Aston Villa, Gary McAllister is in temporary charge and he’s another Scot from Motherwell, just a few miles south of Glasgow.
It’s remarkable that an area of around two million people is so good at producing managers and yet relatively poor at producing players. Only Dalglish can claim to have been a great player, the rest were average journeyman, though Coyle is a hero at Airdrie for his goal-scoring exploits.
No other world city can claim to produce so many top rank managers. What is it about Glasgow? Is it the incomprehensible, barking accent? Is it something innate to the Glasgow or more broadly, the Scottish upbringing that fits well into being the boss of a team of men?
This isn’t a new phenomenon, some of the towering figures in the game, Jock Stein, Bill Shankly and Matt Busby were all born within 20 miles of each in the west of Scotland.
Glasgow is a resolutely, unreconstructed working class place. The prawn sandwich brigade never made any inroads into Scottish football. In many ways, both good and bad, Scottish football is like going back in time 35 years.
All these men share a relatively tough upbringing and yet an upbringing in tightly knit communities. Ferguson was a union man; a shop steward and the socialist collective spirit has always run through the political blood of the area. Alex McLeish’s father was also a big union man. Shankly always said he was a socialist.
All men have a strong sense of their roots, of where they came from and thus seem to be amongst the more grounded, pragmatic and rootsy of managers. Perhaps there is a brutal honesty to them which motivates other men. Perhaps they do tough love well.
Whatever the reason, at a time when Scottish football itself is in the doldrums, its managerial tradition has never been stronger.