As Graham Potter clapped the visiting fans at Old Trafford after Brighton’s first win away at Manchester United in their history, he will have known this result, and the manner in which his team went about it, will have caused his stock to rise further.
When the Seagulls battered United 4-0 at home last season, it was put down to the Red Devil’s failings. This time, it was a new dawn in Manchester, and Potter still stole the show. His tactics were brave, his team were well-drilled and even when major decisions went against them, they did not falter.
It did cause some talk as to whether the 20-time champions of England had made a mistake in overlooking Potter for their own vacant managerial position when they sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November. The reason United didn’t consider the Brighton boss for the role is reportedly because of his lack of managerial experience in the Champions League, a competition they aren’t even in this season.
Instead they went down the convoluted route of appointing Ralf Rangnick as interim boss, before Erik ten Hag got the job this summer as the Austrian declined to take up his consultancy role. But United’s decision to avoid the English manager isn’t one just restricted to the Old Trafford club. They may have paid the price on the opening weekend, but this decision to steer away from British managers is one seen across the top six.
Manchester City’s last British manager was Stuart Pearce in 2007, Tottenham’s was Tim Sherwood in 2013, United’s was David Moyes in 2014, Liverpool’s was Brendan Rodgers in 2015, and Frank Lampard became the first British manager in 23 years at Chelsea in 2019.
Only Liverpool from that list, having had Jurgen Klopp in charge since Rodgers, and previously employed Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish can claim to have given British managers a fair shot. Now, it seems that the trend for employing foreign managers is at an all time high, following on from the success of Pep Guardiola and Klopp in the Premier League. In truth, it’s hard to see that changing.
It used to be the case that elite British managers would be linked to the Everton job, but now the Toffees have fallen away, it seems even more difficult for these bosses to bridge that gap. Potter is arguably the best of the current bunch at the minute, but the only other way to break the big six is to do so with an ‘outsider’ club.
Eddie Howe, who will be in the opposite dugout as Brighton face Newcastle this afternoon, looks like he could work wonders at Newcastle United. Having done well at Bournemouth, he is now at a club with serious financial muscle and one that could disrupt the elite over the next few years. But even if he does, would one of the Manchester clubs give him a major job?
It’s where there is a slight disparity between the ‘big six’ and the national team. For many, Potter is the preferred choice to follow on from the amazing work Gareth Southgate has done, while Howe is also a decent option. These two English managers would surely jump at the chance to manage the Three Lions in a couple of years, especially if their pathway to the Champions League is still blocked by foreign coaches.
There are other routes that England could take. Lee Carsley is in charge of the under 21s, Sean Dyche is out of work having left Burnley, and Steve Cooper is taking his first steps in the top flight with Nottingham Forest. Having already worked with England’s youth teams and researched Colombia at the 2018 World Cup, the Welshman may not be as opposed to the first-team job as some would initially think.
With Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard also gaining experience in the Premier League, this new wave of British managers are being given opportunities to perform. Potter and Howe are the best of the bunch, but the glass ceiling of seventh place needs to be removed if they are to fulfil their full potential domestically.
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