British vs Foreign manager?

“Every club will have a foreign owner soon, the way things are going, you get more foreign owners and you’ll get more foreign coaches. The lifespan of a manager will get less and less. People should give English managers more of an opportunity” – Harry Redknapp.

With the managerial merry go round in full swing Premier League chairman have some difficult decisions to make. In uncertain times it is understandable that the demand for been-round-the-block experience should rise. After all, when a club has been left in the lurch by its manager, or is staring relegation in the face, the last thing to appeal to owners and chairman alike is a fresh-faced novice who has yet to experience the travails of life in the Premier League. Yet, an awful lot of pressure these days, from the media and fans is put on chairman to appoint a young British manager at their football club.

Barely a few weeks into the Summer and vacancies have appeared at some top clubs, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Fulham, Birmingham City and West Ham have all been in the hunt for a new manager over the last few weeks; that can turn around their fortunes and restore past glories.

But should a club really look to appoint a British manager?

Or should they set their sights on the best talent from abroad?

Since the inception of the Premier League 19 years ago, 58 teams have suffered relegation, managed by 47 different men. What is significant about this is that only one of these gentleman isn’t British. Avram Grant (Israeli) is the only foreign import to have been relegated from the Premier League, twice in fact, in back to back seasons with Portsmouth and West Ham United. The other 46 have all been British.

There is an exclusive club of managers that have been relegated more than once, which boasts 10 members. Dave ‘Harry’ Bassett the only manager to suffer the indignity of relegation on 3 separate occasions.

Dave Bassett (Sheffield United, Notts Forest & Leicester City)

George Burley (Ipswich Town – twice)

Steve Coppell (Crystal Palace & Reading)

Iain Dowie (Crystal Palace & Hull City)

Avram Grant (Portsmouth & West Ham)

Alex McLeish (Birmingham City – twice)

Gary Megson (Norwich City & West Brom)

Bryan Robson (Middlesbrough & West Brom)

Joe Royle (Oldham Athletic, Man City)

Colin Todd (Bolton Wanderers – twice),

These stats seem to buck the statistic that a British manager can save your club from impending doom, although when it comes to winning the Premier League title, its been won by a British manager 13 of the 19 times. (12 for Sir Alex Ferguson & 1 for Kenny Dalglish)

So when it comes to a dog fight at the bottom, perhaps a foreign coach is the way to go

Do you agree?

Please leave a comment  or Tweet me.


About oreillyskills
The blog of a Journalism student with the mission of providing an informative and entertaining spin on the most hotly-debated football stories and an irreverent look at the funny side of the beautiful game.

9 Responses to British vs Foreign manager?

  1. It’s an interesting stat, but it ignores situations like Egil Olsen at Wimbledon in 2000, who was sacked with a couple of games left and the club in the drop zone (but yet to be relegated).

    Also, how many foreign managers have actually been in charge of relegation threatened clubs? They were a rarity even at the top in the first decade of the Premier League, and even in recent seasons only Roberto Martinez and Avram Grant have been non-British managers at truly struggling clubs. Foreign managers being better for relegation-threatened teams is not an extension of British managers tending to take clubs down, I don’t think.

    • I agree that the stats are slightly warped when you consider that Egil Olsen was responsible for Wimbledons relegation, but officially they were taken down by Terry Burton. The point I was making is that last season there were 8 overseas managers, 9 the year before and it is interesting that they haven’t really suffered relegation, albeit the clubs they were managing are often ‘top half clubs’.

      Another element is that the Championship is heavily populated with British managers. (over 91%) So the teams coming up that are often the relegation candidates for the subsequent season almost always have British managers.

      In essence I was just hoping to open the debate.

  2. Leo says:

    Since the explosion of foriegn players in the 1990s names like Zola, Martinez and Poyet have become widely known. Also as they are connected with the UK they are starting to take lower league jobs, I predict that this trend will continue, meaning that as they start bringing teams up from the Championship more we will get a sense of whether they are better at preventng relegation. I reckon then the stats might begin to even up, in terms of foriegn managers being relegated and winning titles, of course not until Sir Alex retires.

    • With Gus Poyet & Sven Goran Eriksson managing clubs in the Championship with a real chance of success, we may see foreign managers bringing teams into the Premier League for the first time.

      As far as I know Roberto Di Matteo and Owen Coyle are the only foreign managers to so and they both left the clubs they took up mid season, so we will never know if they would have proved or rubbished the statistic.

      • David says:

        Since when is Owen Coyle a foreigner?! I think you’ll find he has a British passport…

      • Agreed the situation is more complex. Just find the stat very interesting and wanted to open up the debate.

        Re. Owen Coyle, officially he’s Irish, therefore not British, but who knows. I’m sure he also holds a UK passport to be honest.

      • David says:

        Re: Coyle. He’s a Scot! “He has one cap for the Republic of Ireland, having qualified through Irish descent” (From Wikipedia). Still not foreign, then.

  3. David says:

    Enjoyed the read! You’ll probably agree that the situation is yet more complex than what you portray here.

    Is it the case, for example, that the relegated clubs tend also to be “poorer” clubs? Not always, of course! But if one is looking for trends it would be worth investigating whether size of budget correlates to foreign manager (bigger the budget, more likely to be non-Brit?).

    By the way: for an aspiring journalist there are a surprising number of mistakes in your prose!

    – First sentence: “merry-go-round” is hyphenated.
    – Every instance of “chairman” in the first paragraph should be “chairmen” (plural!).
    – Last sentence, first para is missing a parenthetical comma.
    – Second para probably shouldn’t start with same phrase (and mistake!) as first para: use some imagination!
    – Second para is one long, ungainly, and ungrammatical sentence. It would be better chopped into three with some necessary knock-on re-drafting.
    – Learn how to use a semi-colon. (See preceding comment.)
    – Third para: the subordinate (“which…”) clause in first sentence is awkward. Second sentence missing verb. (Yes, that was meant to be ironic! 😉

    Hope that’s a help!


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