Football Manager “coming to life” has been a common theme of recent managerial appointments.
Big names (barring Frank Lampard) have usually stayed away from the dugout and remained in the comfort of the television studio, doing their punditry work.
Five England internationals from the 2000s however have made the step into management and will take charge of their club’s opening games, something which would have been difficult to envisage in the mid-2000s when they were still playing the game. Let’s take a look through the fabled five.
The latest former footballer to enter the managerial mayhem is former Leeds, Real Madrid and Newcastle defender Jonathan Woodgate. The man who had a distinguished career which included eight caps for his country has got the top job at another one of his former clubs - Middlesbrough - after completing his coaching badges.
There is no clue as to how well he will do as a manager but it is refreshing to see another young English manager being given an opportunity in the Championship. Woodgate will make his debut in the dugout tonight as Boro kick-off the football season away at Luton. Debuts have not always been Woodgate’s specialty - he famously scored an own goal and got sent off on his Real Madrid debut. The spotlight is well and truly on.
One of the other England internationals managing in the Championship, with slightly more experience than Woodgate, is Scott Parker. In charge of well-fancied Fulham ahead of the season, Parker will be under intense scrutiny from the first whistle, something he didn’t experience as the club were relegated last season.
Parker has won just three of his ten games in charge of the Cottagers but he will surely have a better time of things in the second tier, with a squad packed with talent. Parker made 18 appearances for the Three Lions during his playing career.
One-cap wonder Lee Bowyer looked like he wouldn’t be the manager of newly-promoted Charlton at the beginning of the summer after a contract dispute with controversial owner Roland Duchatelet. But he still remains in charge of the Addicks, on the eve of the new season.
Things will be incredibly tough for Bowyer this year with a depleted squad who only just made it up to the Championship. He worked miracles last season but will have to do more than that if he is to keep Charlton up.
More controversy from Joey Barton at the end of last season as he assaulted Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel. However, on the pitch his side have done well, finishing in the top half last season.
A play-off push in League One should be the target for Barton and his Cod Army, which is still achievable even in this competitive division. Just the one England cap for Barton, but they all count.
Probably the best England player on this list with 73 international caps over a decent decade. Campbell did remarkably well to lead Macclesfield to safety in League Two when they looked dead and buried and it looks to be another relegation scrap for the Silkmen this time around.
Campbell should be given more time in management, even if Macclesfield go down this season.