Whisper it quietly, but it’s starting to feel like British managers are all the rage again.
Back in the inaugural season of the Premier League, 21 of the 22 managers were British, with the exception of Irishman Joe Kinnear. But the passage of time has resulted in more and more foreign bosses being given their head. Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho… the list of men coming in from abroad has been almost endless.
Saturday afternoon’s games showcase a number of Brits bucking the more recent trend. Of the eight managers populating the dugouts at 3pm, only Norwich’s Daniel Farke is an import, and 11 of the total 20 Premier League clubs have entrusted homegrown bosses with the reins.
Frank Lampard has impressed in charge of Chelsea this term, breathing new life and young English talent into the Blues, who take on Bournemouth on Saturday. They are currently nestled inside the top four, which the Stamford Bridge faithful would certainly take come May, but perhaps the former midfielder’s greatest achievement has been doing what many thought was impossible: making Chelsea likeable again.
In the opposite dugout this weekend, Eddie Howe will take charge of his 169th Premier League game in charge of the Cherries. For a manager who at the age of 42 is now in his fifth Premier League season, he has done a remarkable job in the seven years he has been at the club. Bournemouth may be in a sticky run of form at this current moment in time, but Howe has an awful lot of credit in the bank with the club having guided them from League Two to the Premier League. His job looks safe despite five consecutive top-flight losses.
These two are not anomalies. Across England’s top division, British managers are flourishing. Brendan Rodgers is hunting down table-toppers Liverpool with an impressive Leicester City side that look set to finish in the top four. If Lampard’s Chelsea can do the same then we are set for our first pair of British managers making the Champions League in the same season since 2011/12. Back then, Sir Alex Ferguson finished second with Manchester United while Harry Redknapp stole fourth place with Tottenham on the final day.
The Premier League’s mid-table positions are choc-a-bloc with talented Brits. Chris Wilder is making waves at Sheffield United, Roy Hodgson is working his magic at Crystal Palace and Steve Bruce is defying the critics at Newcastle. It doesn’t end there.
Graham Potter is gaining plaudits for his debut season at Brighton, Sean Dyche’s Burnley are still battling away, while Duncan Ferguson seems to have refreshed Everton - temporarily, at least - after the departure of Marco Silva. Dean Smith has kept his Villa side out of the relegation zone, for now, while Watford have turned to Nigel Pearson in the hope of dragging themselves off the foot of the table.
Of course, there will be sackings from now until the end of the season and Duncan Ferguson may not get the Everton job, but the tide, and public opinion does seem to have turned when it comes to British managers. Eleven out of 20 is no mean feat given how low their collective stock was just stock was very recently.
Premier League clubs no longer immediately jump to appoint a foreign manager. Look at Watford as a prime example. Before Pearson, their last eight managers had all been from abroad, a run that stretched back to Sean Dyche, who left seven years ago now. Instead of following that same pattern, they’ve attempted to shake things up a bit with an old British Bulldog.
For so long their British techniques were considered outdated and the managers were called dinosaurs, but this new generation, spearheaded by Wilder, Lampard and co. are rewriting the rulebook.