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Lawrie McMenemy
"Wenger is a brilliant man - but Arsenal have one of the worst disciplinary records"
 real 14k

Eric Bilderman, L'Equipe
"Wenger is the right man. There is no better choice than Arsene"
 real 14k

Northern Ireland manager Sammy McLlroy
"There are plenty of English managers out there. They don't need to ask a foreign coach"
 real 14k

banner Monday, 9 October, 2000, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
England's foreign option
wenger
Arsene Wenger has blazed a trail in England for foreign coaches
BBC Sport Online's Martin Roberts examines the dilemma facing the FA as demands grow for the appointment of a non-English coach.

England are caught in the clamour to appoint a foreign coach as they study a lack of potential home-grown successors to Kevin Keegan.

English coaches are invariably limited in their international football experience and are under-qualified compared to their foreign counterparts.

And yet one factor that may hold back this revolutionary appointment may be fears about the ability of foreign coaches to tap in to the unique English football mentality.

The FA's fears may be close to being dispelled, however, after they study the success stories of the Premier League in recent seasons.

And the success of foreign coaches is no accident when the schooling system on the continent is put under the microscope.

FA coaching badges can be picked up in a fraction of the time it takes to reach the top level on the Continent, where football people inevitably become more deeply versed in styles of play, training and tactics - areas where Keegan acknowledged he had major shortcomings.

The path has already been forged in the last few years by respected managers such as Gianluca Vialli at Chelsea, Gerard Houllier at Liverpool and Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

They have demonstrated how intelligence and football learning can be translated into a different language and a different league.

Adapt

After all, these managers were having to adapt to a style of play in the Premiership which is far removed from the shorter passing game favoured in most European leagues, but they were able to do so while improving the team with some of their own ideas.

It can also be argued that they improved the sum total of their players' ability by teaching them about different systems, tactical changes or new forms of training.

Certainly, the vast majority of those who have played under Wenger at Highbury would say that his instruction has made them better players.

jacquet
Aime Jacquet will snub the FA
The achievements of Wenger, Houllier and fellow Frenchmen Aime Jacquet and Roger Lemerre, respectively World Cup and European Championship winners, with France, also illustrate that you do not necessarily need to have been a great player to be a great coach.

None of them played at a high level, but still succeeded on the other side of white line by working their way up and proving themselves.

Obsession

The English obsession in believing that great players make great managers remains, but perhaps those who were learning to coach at the time instead of being involved in the hurly-burly on the pitch were using their time more productively when it came to eventually being involved in management.

Most of the English candidates put forward - Peter Reid, Bryan Robson, Peter Taylor and Howard Wilkinson - only have experience of playing and managing in one league, yet will be required to put together teams capable of beating the best that Europe and the rest of the world can offer.

Taylor, Reid and Wilkinson do have experience with England U-21s, but Wenger, who the FA would like to appoint, has managed in France.

One additional telling factor against a foreign coach which comes into the equation in every country is prejudice.

It questions whether a coach can really put everything into a job managing a country that is not his own, or give his players the necessary inspiration.

Few managers can have had a greater sense of patriotism than Kevin Keegan - and he came up sadly short.

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