A dying breed: English managers on the brink?

Story highlights

  • Former England coach Steve McClaren says English coaches "not respected" abroad
  • Only four English managers are currently working in the Premier League
  • No English manager has won the league title since Howard Wilkinson in 1992
  • McClaren tells young English coaches to go abroad to learn their trade

Pep Guardiola is an anomaly -- one man who didn't fancy a crack at the Premier League, or at least not yet.

But the Spaniard is one of the rare few to turn down a chance of taking charge of one of England's top clubs.

Coaches flock from Europe and across the world to try their luck, and some like Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Mancini land the top prize.

Guardiola's move to the German Bundesliga will come as a relief to some, particularly those homegrown coaches desperately trying to make their mark in a 20-team league where there are only four English managers.

In addition, figures recorded before the close of the January transfer window showed that of the 480 players used in the Premier League this season, 176 were English -- just 36.7%.

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Since the nation's dismal failure at the 2010 World Cup, where Fabio Capello's team was brutally torn apart by a wonderfully youthful and resurgent Germany, there has been a long period of introspection.

Not since 1966 has the nation's footballers delivered the World Cup, a result which can be seen as something of an anomaly given the lack of success in the 47 years since.

But it's not just the players who are failing; it's the coaches and managers too.

And the worst part of it all is that the rest of the world knows it.

'Not respected'

"English managers are not winning," former England manager Steve McClaren told CNN, speaking before he lost his job as coach of Dutch club Twente this week.

"I've been working abroad in Germany and Holland where English coaches and English managers don't hold a great deal of respect in foreign countries.

"That started because there aren't many English players abroad, but that can be put down to the Premier League being the main attraction, and why should they move abroad if they can play in the top league?

"But for English coaches, where can they achieve success? Where can they get the opportunity to manage in the Premier League?

"The Championship is becoming very strong and full of English coaches. Then you have to think about moves abroad, a bit like the route which current England boss Roy Hodgson took.

"He was successful and won competitions in other countries. He knows what it takes to win and that's what chairmen want.

"They want winners, they want successful coaches with a pedigree of a winning. Roy has progressed on that."

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While Scotland has provided some of the most successful managers including Alex Ferguson, Bill Shankly, Matt Busby and Kenny Dalglish, England has failed to replicate the achievements of its northern neighbor.

The English Football Association is trying to educate and bring through young coaches and managers with the opening of the country's National Football Center.

St. George's Park, which opened in October at the cost of $166 million, is seen as key to developing and nurturing homegrown talent both on and off the field.

Boasting state-of-the-art pitches and facilities, the venture will help restore the respect towards English coaches, according to the League Managers' Association.

"From an LMA outlook, the game should be investing in these managers and coaches with their development in the coming years," LMA chief executive Richard Bevan told CNN.

"Long term, the LMA see St. George's Park (SGP) as a massive positive for coaching and the future of English football.

"We acknowledge SGP is not an overnight process, but in the next five to 10 years the LMA firmly believe SGP will have a significant and positive influence on the English game.

"SGP will result in enhanced careers in coaching and all other disciplines in football. The culture, values and behaviors will characterize a new generation of coaches and players.

"It will undoubtedly be a helpful resource in developing and training our aspiring coaches and thereby identifying future English managers."

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But despite the opening of such a world-class facility, the skepticism remains.

Different way of thinking

David Webb, a young English coach, worked with London clubs Tottenham, Crystal Palace and Millwall before taking up a role as a performance scout for Southampton -- promoted to the Premier League this season.

But his experiences in Germany with Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen convinced him that football in England is way behind its European rivals when it comes to developing both coaches and players.

"Germany are leaps and bounds ahead of us," Webb told CNN. "In Germany, kids are educated from a very early age and their development programs are outstanding.

"It's not all about winning, it's about learning and I think that's key. They have a foresight which we don't seem to have.

"In England, we have a few problems -- education, a lack of cultural identity in a football sense and a divide between the Football Association and Premier League.

"English coaches do OK when they're dealing with kids but as soon as they progress to the 16 to 18-year-old age group, it gets difficult.

"They don't progress any further because clubs want to bring in foreign coaches to work with the first-team because they're often more educated and fit the bill.

"A lot of foreign coaches are multilingual, well educated and have a different way of thinking, which make them attractive candidates."

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Webb, who holds a Masters degree in Sports Science, believes the English game needs to do more for aspiring coaches and players from an early age.

"Education is crucial," he said.

"When I was at Leverkusen, they were surprised with me and said that I was more continental in my thinking, the way I worked and my analysis. Perhaps that's because I've had a decent education, and that's important."

Continental style

Few English managers have succeeded abroad in recent times, with the exception of Hodgson, Terry Venables and the late Bobby Robson.

Robson, who passed away in 2009, won back-to-back league titles with Dutch club PSV Eindhoven after leading England to the World Cup semifinals in 1990.

He then went on to win the Portuguese league and cup double with Porto, before guiding Barcelona to the Spanish Cup, Spanish Super Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup in his only season in charge.

"I loved playing for Bobby, he was my favorite manager," former Newcastle defender and France international Didier Domi told CNN.

"He was one of those few English coaches to have managed abroad and you could tell that. He had that English way about him but also knew about the continental style, and that's why we enjoyed playing for him.

"For me, it was his knowledge which had obviously gained while coaching in Europe which made him special.

"Everybody loved him from the senior players to the younger ones. He had so much knowledge and knew how to handle people.

"He also had a caring side and was great for me."

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But while Robson was successful in Europe, he never managed to win the English league title, despite success at Ipswich and Newcastle.

In fact, not since Howard Wilkinson led Leeds United to the league title in 1992 has an Englishman lifted the biggest prize in domestic competition.

Only three Englishman have won the FA Cup since 1991, while McClaren was the last to win the League Cup nine years ago.

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Uphill struggle

The reputation of the country's coaches has dipped dramatically from the glory years of the late 1970s and early 1980s when Bob Paisley led Liverpool to three European Cups and Brian Clough worked wonders by winning the competition twice with Nottingham Forest.

Not since Joe Fagan led Liverpool to victory over Roma in 1984 has an English manager won Europe's top title.

The 29-year wait shows little sign of ending anytime soon; of the four Englishmen in charge of EPL clubs, none are competing for top honors.

Brian McDermott of Reading and QPR's Harry Redknapp are battling against relegation, while Alan Pardew's Newcastle and Sam Allardyce's West Ham are hovering just above the bottom three.

It was Allardyce who famously claimed he would never manage a big-four club, telling reporters: "The tongue-in-cheek answer is because I'm not called Allardici, just Allardyce."

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Only recently, Southampton manager Nigel Adkins lost his job after leading the club from the third tier into the Premier League in consecutive seasons. He was replaced by Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Adkins' dismissal was met with disdain by the majority of those in football after he had led his side away from the relegation zone with a run of just two defeats in 12 games.

All this despite Chelsea's Gary Cahill telling CNN that there are huge benefits from working with an English coach.

"I think the coaches know the Premier League inside out and I think that's beneficial for English players, they know how they can get the best out of them," the England defender said.

But McClaren maintains that English managers face an uphill struggle to establish themselves in the Premier League.

"Over the past five years the game has changed dramatically in terms of infrastructure," he said. "You've got multi-billionaire owners coming in who can get the best.

"Unfortunately, they're looking abroad for that and for people who have won European trophies.

"They want people who have won leagues in Europe and have a background in winning. Unfortunately, our coaches and managers haven't got the pedigree of winning things."

McClaren sacked after England exit

Following his ill-fated two-year reign which was brought to an ignominious end when England failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championship, McClaren felt he had no option but to leave the country.

Surviving the job

The constant media intrusion and the vilification of his character left his reputation in tatters, leaving him virtually untouchable for Premier League clubs.

Instead, he headed to Holland with FC Twente where he has once again begun to rebuild his career, courtesy of a Dutch league title triumph in 2010.

Brief spells at Wolfsburg in Germany and Nottingham Forest in England's second division followed before he returned to Twente. He departed after the club dropped to fifth in the Eredivisie, having been up near the leaders for most of this season.

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"I went abroad with opportunity to expand my experience and knowledge and it has been fantastic," McClaren said.

"Also, it's an opportunity to take over a top team which could win something and also play in Europe.

"I think what really improves coaches and managers is playing in Europe. That's where you really do learn. I've been very fortunate. I did it with Middlesbrough and I was fortunate to come to Twente, win the league and get to play in Europe.

"I believe that also gets you recognition and puts you on the map. It also improves you greatly in playing against European opponents.

"Our English coaches are not exposed to that so coming abroad may be an opportunity for English coaches and managers to experience a club which is challenging at the top and also playing in Europe. That is how you can get your reputation."

McClaren's reputation is still tarnished in England, something he readily admits himself. The carnage of the national job made him a pariah -- Aston Villa decided to cancel his interview for the manager's role back in July 2011 following an outburst of criticism from supporters.

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But there is no bitterness or hint of regret in his voice, just a sense of realism in what has passed.

"I've been fortunate to have been given that opportunity and it's a great honor," he said.

"It was a period of great learning and yes, I do feel that at the time, it was too early for me.

"I didn't deal with the sideshow. I thought I was unlucky on the field at the wrong times but that's no excuse.

"It was great experience and exposure and I think that has helped me to cope abroad, to have that experience. Also, having managed England, it gave me the opportunity to manage abroad. I've a better reputation abroad.

"Very few people survive the job and come out the other end with their reputation intact. If you do, you've done very well."

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