As Alex Ferguson surpasses twenty-five years at Manchester United, Aaron Kennedy asks why Scottish managers are outperforming their English counterparts
Over the last few decades, English managers have struggled immensely in terms of making a name for themselves and gaining silverware. Out of the five managers who have won the prestigious Premier League trophy, not one has been English, while two have been Scottish. The remarkable success of Scottish managers has been evident for some time and has highlighted the lack of accomplishment of their English equivalents.
The six English-born managers who are currently managing Premier League sides are Neil Warnock, Harry Redknapp, Alan Pardew, Brendan Rogers, Steve Bruce and Roy Hodgson. Only Redknapp and Pardew currently manage two of the big sides, in Tottenham and Newcastle respectively.
Harry Redknapp has had his ups and down as a manager in the English game. While he led Tottenham to the dizzy heights of the Champions League quarter-finals, he was only the second English manager to qualify for the knock-out stages, and the third to qualify for the Champions League group-stages.
Pardew was seriously doubted when he replaced Chris Hughton, but has shown this season that his side have made excellent progress since their relegation two seasons ago. Neil Warnock of Queens Park Rangers has had a promising season so far and is sitting nicely in mid-table. Steve Bruce achieved an abundant amount of silverware as a player under Alex Ferguson at Manchester United but has not reached the same levels of success as a manager. Since becoming manager of Sunderland in 2009, Bruce has achieved very little success and has only a 36.6 per cent win record as manager of the Black Cats.
Hodgson led Fulham to their highest ever place in the Premier League, gaining seventh place and progressing to the Europa League Final in the next season. This revived his poor reputation as a manager in England after his Blackburn days and won him an appointment with Liverpool. Hodgson went on to have the shortest length of time as a manager at the club, lasting just thirty-one games, which dashed his hopes of obtaining the much-coveted England job.
There are currently seven Scottish mangers in the Premier League, these being Steve Kean, Kenny Dalglish, David Moyes, Paul Lambert, Alex MacLeish,
Alex Ferguson and Owen Coyle (who was born in Scotland, though declared to play internationally for Ireland).
Out of these seven, it is the Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who has really laid down the foundations for others to succeed. His twenty-five-year reign was celebrated last Sunday after a 1-0 win at home to Sunderland. Altogether he has won twenty Premier Leagues, five FA cups, four League Cups and two Champions Leagues.
David Moyes meanwhile, has used limited funds and created consistently strong teams, even if their league positions do not reflect this. A fourth place finish in 2005 was the pinnacle of his career so far, and while he has failed to repeat a feat such as this, with his restricted budget and continual undermining from the Everton board, Moyes’ record is impressive.
Kenny Dalglish is another example of a Scottish manager who has gained great success, winning the Premier League with Blackburn and having a big impact at Liverpool since arriving last season.
Of the Scottish managers in the Premier League, all seven grew up within thirteen miles of Glasgow, the greater city of which also produced Sir Matt Busby. Does the soccer hub of Scotland create a stronger mentality among managers? David Moyes even believes that the cultural problems in Glasgow could be a reason, saying that you had to make sure “you could handle yourself” in the city, which helps you handle yourself as a manager.
The secret to the Glaswegians’ success comes down to better managerial training facilities combined with stricter tactics. Scottish managers tend to press greater emphasis on having a strong structure while English managers are often more prone to attack and have a more open style of play.
Crossing the border to England, where they may feel they have to prove themselves more than in their homeland, could also be part of the reason for their success.
Pressure on English managers from the media has always been an issue and may contribute to their lack of success in the game. Questions have been asked about whether the pricey new Wembley Stadium has helped the poor managerial case. This money perhaps could have been put into developing new training centres for up and coming managers in the game.
The on-going success of Scottish managers and their ability to avoid being dismissed, as is evident with Steve Kean, comes down to their stronger ideology and the fact that English managers have not had as much success in the past. Managers from other parts of Britain and foreign managers are constantly sought after because of previous success. Before English managers can begin to improve their current position, they must first work on their overall reputation.