When David Moyes was named as the new Manchester United manager in May last year, many people said that this could be the turning point for British coaches everywhere: finally, a British manager – and a relatively young one at that - was given the top job at one of the biggest clubs in the world.
It gave them hope that one day they too may be given a chance at one of the big boys, and should Moyes do good things, a bright future was in line for all. There was only one man who was going to be United Kingdom’s ‘great white hope’ in football management for the 2013-14 campaign and he was in the north-west.
But then it all went wrong very quickly. Some were led to believe the notion that a Moyes failure at Old Trafford would have let present and future club owners vindicate their decision to appoint foreign coaches at the expense of ones from these shores with similar or more impressive records of achievement than or to their overseas counterparts, however obscure. But, luckily for British coaches, there was someone else doing fine things at another one of the most famous clubs on earth.
Enter Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool (you knew that was coming didn’t you? Just as predictable as knowing what singer a contestant would be after being interviewed by an over enthusiastic Matthew Kelly on Stars in Their Eyes; mainly because I’ve already mentioned him in the title).
It was almost a like-for-like change in that last year’s champions came seventh while last year’s seventh placed side came within a whisker of being crowned themselves. Despite Moyes being praised and seen as a bit of an innovator and futurist in his early managerial days with Preston North End (he was apparently the only boss outside the Premier League at the time to use performance analysis software whilst at the club) and Everton, he is now seen as ‘old fashioned’ – being accused of employing long-ball tactics with no plan B. Rodgers, on the other hand, has immersed himself in the ‘modern’ ways of coaching, undoubtedly helped by studying the Spanish models that have become so prevalent these last 10 years or so.
Rodgers shows that just because one boss fails at a big club it doesn’t mean everyone else will. People say the Moyes should not have been given the Man United job on the basis that he has never won a major trophy, but then neither had Rodgers before being paraded on Merseyside. He still hasn’t, yet. And although he had spent nearly two decades in the coaching game, he just over three years of professional football management experience prior to being handed one of the most prestigious jobs in the world, with his spell at Swansea City being the only successful one.
Whatever happened on Sunday, it doesn’t matter whether Liverpool won the league or not: he took a club that had finished outside the top four for the past four seasons to within two points of winning the league title, thus flying the flag and giving hope to British coaches everywhere.
From the likes of Steve Bruce and Mark Hughes - who would be quite right to feel aggrieved at not receiving the recognition and chance at a ‘big’ club that their achievements deserve – to the many who are managing footballing affairs for countries in the Caribbean and Asia that are the size of the World’s End pub in Camden Town. For their sake and for clubs who could do with some rejuvenating, let’s hope that owners out there have taken note.
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