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Last Updated: Friday, 23 November 2007, 08:35 GMT
England's coaching crisis
By Simon Austin

Howard Wilkinson and Steve McClaren
Wilkinson is dismayed a foreigner seems set to replace McClaren

The prospect of England hiring a foreign coach used to be unthinkable, yet now none of the leading candidates for the vacant post are home-grown.

Jose Mourinho, Phil Scolari, Guus Hiddink, Fabio Capello and Northern Ireland's Martin O'Neill are the favourites for Steve McClaren's former job, with Stuart Pearce and Alan Shearer trailing behind them as the best-placed Englishmen.

Howard Wilkinson, chairman of the League Managers Association, says the reluctance of the leading Premiership clubs to recruit English bosses is largely to blame.

When the Premier League launched in 1992/3, it had only one non-British manager in its ranks - Wimbledon's Irish boss Joe Kinnear.

Now English managers are in a minority in the Premier League, with only seven of the 20 clubs having a home-grown boss.

Roy Evans, who was at Liverpool from 1994 to 1998, is the last Englishman to have managed one of the "big four" clubs.

And Wilkinson is the last English manager to have won the league title, with Leeds in 1992.

ENGLAND MANAGER ODDS
4/1: Jose Mourinho
5/1: Martin O'Neill
7/1: Phil Scolari
8/1: Guus Hiddink
10/1: Fabio Capello
12/1: Stuart Pearce/ Alan Shearer
* Odds by William Hill, valid on 22/11/07

He is dismayed that the Football Association again seems set to look abroad for the next manager of the national team.

Wilkinson told BBC Sport: "If the England manager is not English, what sort of message does that send out about the health of our game?

"What incentive will that give to younger managers?"

The LMA chairman says the main reason for this scenario is that the Premier League's top clubs seem intent on looking abroad for their managers.

"The Premiership has increasingly become Hollywood and the big clubs want managers with sex appeal," Wilkinson said.

606: DEBATE

"It is perceived that foreign managers provide that and that they are safer bets than those from this country.

"There are much greater opportunities for bright young managers in Spain and Italy than there are here.

"But even they find it tough. So there needs to be the opportunity to manage at the biggest clubs as well."

Wilkinson says the only chance young English managers have to ply their trade in the Premier League is to take a club up through the leagues.

You want to compete on a level playing field - unfortunately that's not always the case

Steve Coppell
Reading manager

"Young English managers are going to have to start at the bottom and work their way up," he said.

"But we have to remember that there are 92 clubs in this country and their position roughly correlates with the amount of money they have to spend.

"There are managers who have that little bit extra, like Aidy Boothroyd at Watford, who can make a team punch above their weight and move up the leagues."

Reading boss Steve Coppell agrees that English and foreign managers are not operating "on a level playing field" when it comes to getting opportunities in the Premiership.

"You want to compete against the very best and to compete on a level playing field," he told BBC Sport.

"Unfortunately, that's not available. You have to earn your way into the top division, because the big boys are not going to hire English managers.

"When I came to Reading, we were in the Championship, and I said to everyone that my best chance of being a manager in the Premiership was to earn it here at Reading.

"That's proven to be the case. That's the way most English managers can manage in the Premiership. You don't have a chance to impress otherwise.

"The option is to go abroad, because sometimes there's a mystery or an aura. There can also be an advantage, because if you're from France or Spain, you have an in to that market and can perhaps get more value for money.

I don't think nationality will necessarily be an issue

FA chief Brian Barwick on the search for England's next boss
"I think every English manager would be frustrated (about this)."

Furthermore, young English managers do not seem to be getting the time to gain experience and learn from their mistakes.

The average tenure for a manager in England has gone down from 3.12 years in 1992/3 to 1.89 years in 2006/7. And 49% of first-time managers do not get the chance to manage again.

Contrast this with the experience of Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez in Spain. He was sacked from his first two managerial jobs, at Valladolid and Osasuna, before going on to become one of the top managers in Europe.

Benitez went on to manage Tenerife, getting them promoted to La Liga, before being given his big opportunity at Valencia, one of the biggest and wealthiest clubs in Spain.

Wilkinson said: "When Benitez got the job at Valencia, I would say his record was inferior to that of Alan Curbishley, who had turned Charlton from First Division strugglers to an established Premiership outfit.

"Yet Benitez got his big chance at Valencia, where he did brilliantly, while Alan has gone on to West Ham. None of the big four came in for him over here."

* Statistics provided by Sue Bridgewater, Associate Professor at Warwick Business School

SEE ALSO
Time up for the 'golden generation'
23 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Uneasy Benitez drops England hint
23 Nov 07 |  Liverpool
Mourinho 'rules out' England post
22 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Foreigners not to blame - Beckham
23 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Sacked McClaren admits 'failure'
22 Nov 07 |  Internationals


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