Does Foreign Investment Curtail the Development of the British Manager?

Owen WatsonCorrespondent IDecember 26, 2009

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21:  Roberto Mancini the new manager of Manchester City and his assistant, Brian Kidd, hold up a Manchester City shirt during a photocall after a press conference held at the City of Manchester Stadium on December 21, 2009 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

As Roberto Mancini takes charge of Manchester City for his first game following the dismissal of Mark Hughes, there remains a bitter aftertaste in the way a British manager has been ousted in favour of a foreign import.

Ahead of Sunderland’s match with Everton, Steve Bruce spoke about his counterpart David Moyes and the British management in general. His thoughts seem to be in reaction to the developments at Manchester City.

"I rate David Moyes very, very highly—right up there with Martin O'Neill and, of course, Sir Alex [Ferguson] himself in terms of the best of British managers,” he told Chronicle Live.

"I don't think there's anyone who could do a much better job than he has done, and were we not going through an era where Premier League clubs seem to look abroad, rather than go for the best of homegrown managers, he might have been more successful more quickly.

"Will a manager from somewhere like Preston be given a chance at a big Premier League club in the future? It disappoints me that all the big jobs seem to be going to foreign coaches,"  

"Everton are such a big club it also tends to get a bit overlooked that since taking over he has really lifted the club up by its the point where they're regarded as a natural top-half side who should be pushing for Europe every season and maybe even challenging the top four.

"That's a remarkable achievement given the resources he has had."

Of course, Moyes has done a tremendous job at Everton and should rightly be applauded, but are Bruce’s criticisms valid? 

Opportunities at the biggest and best clubs are undeniably limited, and looking at the biggest and richest clubs (Manchester City and Chelsea), they have plumped for foreign coaches in the pursuit of glory. But Chelsea already had a string of overseas coaches in charge before Roman Abramovich brought in his millions, and the previous regime at City sacked Swedish Sven Goran Eriksson to employ Mark Hughes in the first place.

There are clubs in the Premier League, both foreign owned and British owned, that have backed British/Irish managers with substantial budgets. Harry Redknapp has spent heavily at Tottenham Hotspur, while Martin O’Neil has received backing from American owner Randy Lerner. 

Even Steve Bruce has benefited from Texas billionaire Ellis Short’s takeover at Sunderland. Egyptian owned Fulham have stood by English Roy Hodgson, and Alex McLeish seems relatively secure in his post at Birmingham City since their acquisition by Hong Kong based Carson Yeung.

Two of the most promising young British managers to have been prematurely dismissed are Paul Ince at Blackburn and Gareth Southgate at Middlesborough. Both these clubs are run by British owners.

It seems easy to bait foreigners, blaming them for all the troubles in football. But in reality, society in general has become more impatient, less tolerant of perceived failure, and more demanding—growing hungry for success.

To be successful, you need to employ the best person for the job. Increasingly, clubs will look further and further afield to find the right person. This counts for managers as equally as it does for owners and for the players themselves.

Fans and pundits alike will gladly celebrate that, as long as their team is winning and the football is glamorous. What does that say about us?