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If someone would have told you ten years ago that there would be five managerial casualties and arrivals in the Premier League before Christmas in the 2017/18 season, you wouldn’t have been too surprised.
However, if someone would have told you that those five new arrivals would be Claude Puel, (who would have asked who?) Roy Hodgson, Alan Pardew, David Moyes and Sam Allardyce, you would have shaken your head and pondered how these managers are still around.
Yet, this is exactly what has happened this season.
Throw in the potential departure of Paul Clement at Swansea, and the rumoured replacement being Tony Pulis, it really would signal the attitude of Premier League clubs at this current time. The fear of failure and relegation is simply too strong for many clubs, meaning that sides like Crystal Palace would rather opt for an experienced head like Hodgson than put their faith in a young, hungry ambitious manager. Furthermore, Leicester would rather sack their novice British manager and appoint a safe foreign choice, again due to the fear of failure.
The common belief is that Premier League clubs would rather opt for foreign managers than British managers, and whilst this is certainly true for the so called big clubs, I strongly believe that it is these appointments of these experienced managers which is hindering the development of younger more inexperienced managers. Everton have now become Sam Allardyce’s seventh Premier League club, Alan Pardew is now at his third club since signing his 7-year Newcastle contract and David Moyes has given another Premier League opportunity.
There isn’t even a case to be made that there is a lack of good, hungry British options available. Looking at the Championship alone, Chris Wilder stands out as a manager surely worth a gamble. Having won back to back League Two and League One titles, he is further defying the odds by leading his Sheffield United side to a Championship play-off position. A manager who prides himself on getting the best of players and ensuring that players’ potential is reached, he is surely worth taking a risk on. You can argue that he’s never managed in the Premier League before, yet he hadn’t managed in League One before, nor has he managed in the Championship before. Any manager that can lead a Championship play-off charge with Leon Clarke and Billy Sharp as their strike force must be going places.
Another name is Lee Johnson, who has assembled a very strong, free scoring side at Bristol City who are making a serious push for Championship promotion. After experiencing success at Barnsley, Bristol City did take a risk on Johnson, and after ensuring survival in the Championship last season, Johnson is going from strength to strength this season. Johnson is one who loves to develop young players, with Tammy Abraham flourishing last season and Bobby Reid flying this season. Again, it must be argued that Johnson would be a good appointment for a large number of Premier League sides, as his free-flowing attacking style is already suited to the top flight.
Gary Rowett is of course another name, who has impressed at both Birmingham and Derby and must surely start getting linked with Premier League jobs soon.
Furthermore, although not quite at the same level in terms of fighting for the play-offs, both Barnsley’s Paul Heckingbottom and Millwall’s Neil Harris are doing fine jobs this season.
Heckingbottom is trusting in youth, with his Barnsley side assembled by signing youngsters from around the football league, and after surviving in the Championship on a shoe-string budget, Barnsley are once again positioned out of the relegation zone. Similarly, Millwall were among the favourites to be relegated back to League One this season, yet the organised and methodological approach by Harris has lead to them sitting comfortably in midtable. Both of these managers have shown that they have bright futures in the game.
You can drop even further to find quality managers in the making, for example Shrewsbury Town’s Paul Hurst, who is displaying his qualities by leading the Shrews to an unexpected title charge in League One. Hurst showed last season his ability to succeed in a dogfight, keeping the Shrews afloat, and now Salop are punching above their weight at the top of the table. The thought of a premier league club swooping to down to League One for their manager is almost unfathomable, especially considering the Paolo Di Canio farce at Sunderland, but the sky seems to be the limit for Paul Hurst.
The appointments of the likes of Allardyce and Hodgson not only blocks the route of these sort of managers, but also blocks the route for ex-Premier League players to enter management at the highest level. Both Graham Alexander and Kevin Nolan stand out when thinking about this, as these two have both dropped to the Football League to get a taste of management, but both seem to be excelling so far in their young managerial careers.
So, there isn’t a lack of hungry young British managers available, there is just an attitude that experience is better, and the implications of relegation are simply too severe to justify the risk. It seems the only way for young British managers to get a chance to manage in the Premier League is to get there themselves, just like Sean Dyche and Eddie Howe did!