English Football Doesn’t Need So Many Foreign Managers

I’m no Birmingham City fan I can assure you and my allegiance to the Claret and Blue will always be assured to get me stick from Bluenoses up and down the land.

Although, I’m sure there’s one thing at least we agree on in this season of goodwill to all men and that is the absolute shambles of a decision to allow Gary Rowett to leave the club, bringing in Gianfranco Zola to replace him.

Rowett is a young, extremely talented manager, essentially gotten rid of so that the new board of directors can have a celebrity name to schmooze

in the boardroom after games and in their words “to sell the brand better” if they sell the club in the coming seasons.

It’s a decision that’s not based on football, the game that goes on out there on the green stuff, but on the other green stuff that is corrupting the game increasingly across the land, moolah, wonga, dosh, money, and you know what? It stinks.

What does this say to young British coaches, already battling against in many cases foreign managers or coaches who have friendships with magnates or owners and who are pushed to the front of the queue for jobs? It basically says “Stuff you, don’t bother looking for work, don’t bother doing your badges, we’ll use our own men from our own sources, whether or not you’re good enough to do the job”, and that for me makes the game increasingly corrupt.


Sitting Back
Yet who’s doing anything about it? I don’t see administrators coming out in the Football League or Premier League suggesting that this is a bad thing, or that we should in a nation of 40 million be backing up the money going into coaching with real tangible support to the likes of Gary Rowett.

No, we just hear “Owners have a right to bring in whoever they like, it’s their investment, it’s their club”. But guess what? It’s not. It’s your club, you fund it, you’ve supported it, so if you’re a Birmingham City fan, like me, you’re disgusted at the treatment of a young manager who was starting to see the rewards of his hard work, honed in Burton and before that, Loughborough University, tossed to the kerb.

I doubt we’ll see protests outside St. Andrew’s though, like we didn’t at Villa Park down the road when mismanagement contrived to see one of England’s great clubs relegated for the first time in 30 years. Ambivalence sets in, and as long as the next guy promises us as fans, the bounty and cash of the Premier League, then in reality we don’t give a fig about what a sacking like Gary Rowett’s actually means.

Grassroots Dedication
We are in the middle of a huge change in English football, one where we have been soul searching for a long time now as to what the solution is to the lack of quality coaches, players and managers coming through. I visited the FA’s St. George’s Park last week to see for myself and I have to say I was stunned to see so much dedication and organisation and real will from the grassroots team to try to address these issues and put us on the right path.

But I have to ask, what’s the point? Rowett, and any number of English coaches, like Garry Monk, swiftly tossed aside at Swansea when the American owners wanted sexier names are swimming against the tide, shrugging their shoulders and saying “What’s the bloody point?”. Which surely at a time when we are trying to answer the question of better quality English coaches is a terrible message and example to give to these guys?

I’m no xenophobe, I’m the proud mix of English and Caribbean parents, but we English have a spectacular habit of moaning about how our own interests aren’t being served in the game while getting giddy about the next exotic sounding manager or player coming into our game.

What Do We Need?

Do we really in a nation of 40 million need so many foreign players in Leagues One, Two and Conference?

Do we really need so many managers and coaches in those same leagues who come for a season and then go elsewhere rather than being a little patient with the likes of Rowett and Monk?

The answer to both questions is of course not. So who’s monitoring whether a Belgian or Albanian player in the third tier of English football, or a coach in the Championship from France is doing a better job, teaching new tricks and adding real value that couldn’t be given from promoting our own talent, something that is widely acknowledged, even acted upon by the governing body?

The Premier League should always be attracting the very best talent from overseas, and whether that’s a Pep, Conte or Hazard, we need these guys to be the cherry on the cake and to bring innovation, ideas and quality to these shores.

But if you are telling me Gianfranco Zola, ironically a man who did that exact thing on the pitch but nothing yet off it, is better than Gary Rowett or deserves to walk in on the back of the Englishman’s work, I’m sorry but you are completely wrong.