Glasgow Connection in Premier League Grows With Norwich City

Photo by OliverN5

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.

10 thoughts on “Glasgow Connection in Premier League Grows With Norwich City”

  1. Hardly think Paul Lambert, a midfielder who outmarked and negated Zidane to win the Champions League, can be called a journeyman.

    1. Nor can Alex McLeish, 77 caps when Scotland were good, and a European Cup Winners’ Cup winner to boot. And nearly 500 games for one team. A better word than “journeyman” is needed here. In fact, Big Eck is probably in the top five best footballers amongst EPL managers.

  2. No offense, but there is something of a bipolar-ness to Glaswegians–a friendly, sunny disposition as well as the deeply-held Scottish resolve that the world is out to get them. Perhaps the sectarianism has something to do with it. In any event, I would imagine that would be a good combination on the training pitch and dressing room, though players may never be sure if they’re going to get the good cop or the bad cop, the hairdryer or the pat on the back. Maybe it’s the dark winters? Latitude is the same as Moscow.

  3. “No other world city can claim to produce so many top rank managers”…

    Huh? Actually none of those managers (except SAF) could be considered “top rank”. There is no top rank team in the world that would go after any of the managers on that list, except SAF.

    1. The author of the piece is obviously using the expression “top rank” to mean premier league-calibre. I wouldn’t bash him just because his definition of an imprecise term such as “top rank” is broader than yours.

      If you want to criticize the article, why don’t you think about whether any other cities in the world have produced so many “premier league-caliber” managers?

      1. I agree with Dave. “Top rank” doesn’t mean the best managers in the world. Not everyone has the opportunity like Sir Alex Ferguson to manage one of the best teams in the world. Full credit to Lambert for doing an incredible job with the players he has at his disposal.

        The Gaffer

  4. before anyone gets too excited theres a reason they al leave scotland and never go back…

  5. Someone should make a cliche like “those who can’t do teach” or something to explain why so many managers in sports weren’t superstars as players?

  6. scotland is the place to go to learn to be a manager. its no surprise that the greats are scottish or learned their way in scotland mangerial schools like mourinho did.

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