Famously soft spoken Paul Ince has blamed elderly chairman with old-fashioned prejudices for the lack of job opportunities extended to black British would-be managers. The fomer Manchester Utd and Liverpool midfielder seemed cast-iron favourite for the Wolves job this summer, but was overlooked in favour of Mick “Relegation? Easy!” McCarthy.
“Most chairmen are 65 or 75, so maybe it’s a generational thing,” said Ince. “Maybe black managers will have more of a chance with foreign owners coming into the game, people who don’t really see this as an issue.”
It’s a good point. Someone like Gareth Southgate can apparently walk into the top job at Middlesbrough purely on reputation and without so much as a GCSE in PE, but even though Ince was a more successful player he was denied an opportunity even at Championship mainstays Wolves. He’s even been making people call him “The Guv’nor” for ages, surely that counts for double?
As John Barnes recently pointed out, Jean Tigana and Ruud Guulit have both managed in the Premiership, but they’re foreign. Regardless of what is preventing it from happening right now, the day will come for successful black British manager in the top flight and the floodgates should open from there – similar to what Arsene Wenger’s success at Arsenal did for the foreign manager.
So here are a few of the guys who have the best chance at putting the issue to bed sooner rather than later:
Paul Ince: the man himself is currently League Two manager of the month following some good work at Macclesfield Town. Ince takes his team to Chelsea for an FA Cup tie on Saturday, and with the Blues defence at sixes and sevens (and missing number 26) there’s never been a better time. Surely it’s only a matter of time before a man this determined climbs through the league and manages in the Premiership. Maybe not with Macclesfield though.
Keith Alexander: the only other black manager in the English league (according to Wikipedia anyway). After paying his dues in the lower leagues with Ilkeston Town and Northwich Victoria, Alexander took the reigns at Lincoln City, leading the cash strapped Imps to the League Two playoffs for four straight seasons without winning promotion. He took over at fellow League Two team Peterbrough in May 2006, with the Posh currently sitting in 7th place.
John Barnes: OK, so his spell at Celtic didn’t go so well, but Scotland, and specifically Glasgow, is an odd and difficult place to manage a team. Just ask Paul Le Guen. I’m guessing Barnesey’s heart isn’t in it anymore, but it would be great if he gave management one more go. Plus he can’t be any worse at managing than he is at. Reading. That. Auto. Cue.
Viv Anderson: The first black player to get a full England cap, Anderson was managing Barnsley in the 1993/4 season, but left to take a role as Assistant Manager at West Brom. He probably thought being part of Bryan Robson’s team would be an invaluable coaching experience. Obviously he was wrong.
Keith Curle: The former Man City and (briefly) England defender was doing a solid job at Mansfield Town until he was sacked in bizarre circumstances in 2004. He was accused of bullying a youth team player, an allegation Curle fought in court, winning undisclosed damages in 2006. Curle then managed Chester City from 2005 to 2006, making an impressive start before bad results saw him sacked again. But Curle is still only 43 and it’s still possible he’ll have another shot at management.
Les Ferdinand: For the record, Sir Les hasn’t expressed any interest in management, but he’s part of a respected generation of black footballers (such as Dion Dublin and Andy Cole) who have either retired from playing or are approaching that age.