Are the Growing Number of Foreign Premier League Managers a Cause of Concern or Cause for Celebration?

COS Columnist Sean Quinn discusses why the influx of international managers in the Premier League has become such a bugbear for some English bosses.

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Harry Redknapp has warned about the perils of foreign ownership for
British managers with aspirations of managing in the Premier League.
But he would be doing his younger colleagues a greater favour if he not
only reminded them that under EC legislation they are as entitled to
work abroad as “foreign” managers are in England, but that it may even
be in their interests to do so.

Citing Manchester City, where Mark Hughes was replaced by Roberto
Mancini, Harry laments the fact that new owners are more likely to
appoint as manager “a sexy name – someone they have heard of”. He sees
that as an ominous taste of things to come. And he is absolutely
right. Because anyone who invests millions of pounds, roubles or
dollars taking control of a club is more likely to appoint as manager
an established successful name as opposed to someone who may have been
working wonders on a shoestring Championship budget but whose name is
unknown to them – be they Italian, Welsh, Portuguese, Chinese, or even
English. And who can blame them ? If it was your personal money and
reputation that was at stake, what would you do ? Let’s face it,
Roberto Mancini was not appointed for his looks and his sartorial élan
in a scarf; he was appointed because he managed Inter Milan for 4
years, winning 7 trophies in the process, including 3 consecutive Serie
A titles. Now that’s what I call sexy.

Like it or not, in this era of globalization British managers have to
face up to the fact that if they wish to get one of the top Premier
League jobs they have to compete not only with coaches from the British
Isles, but the world, and particularly Europe. Meanwhile the gulf
between the Premier League and the Championship is growing so wide – in
terms of budgets, quality of player, style of play – that it is
rendering success in the latter competition a less meaningful yardstick
by which to assess a candidate’s merit. How much more impressive, I
wonder, would a British coach appear were he to apply for a Premier
League job as a successful coach in Spain, Italy, or France, as opposed
to that Championship, never mind as a Sky pundit ? He has learnt a new
language and culture, coached players in that language, gained in
confidence – experience that will prove invaluable when he takes on
what will inevitably be a multi cultural Premier League dressing room –
and developed an international network of contacts. And he’s had the
sheer balls to make the effort to go in the first place. For that in
itself tells you something about the man.

Steve Maclaren is the obvious example of someone who has had to make
that effort to rebuild his reputation at FC Twente in Holland, but it
surprises me that more British managers don’t appear to relish the
professional challenge that they are now presented with. We often hear
players say how much they enjoy playing against world class players
(“measuring themselves against the best”). And yet once those players
become managers they appear to lose some of their competitiveness.
Instead of taking consolation from Harry’s supportive words, they’d be
better off dusting down their passports.

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