Congratulations to Norwich City who are back in the English Premier League… and with a Scottish manager. This now means that 6 of the 20 English Premier League managers are Scottish. Why is it that Premier League Chairmen are recruiting Scottish managers? Has Sir Alex Ferguson set a precedent within the league and he has created a blueprint for success within the English Premier League.
There are many theories as to why Scottish managers have historically done well within the top tier of English football. One school of thought is the fact that due to their working class backgrounds they have a fantastic work ethic. Another theory is that the Scottish don’t suffer fools gladly and don’t let player’s egos take over the dressing room. Sir Alex Ferguson for example has let star players leave the club when they have crossed the line – think David Beckham and Jaap Stam who both got listed after a fall out with him.
More likely is the fact that the current crop of Scottish managers within the Premier League all began their coaching careers whilst still playing. David Moyes for example was taking his coaching qualifications at the age of 22. They also have fine role models to look up to – Sir Alex Ferguson would have looked up to the likes of Jock Stein, Bill Shankly and of course Sir Matt Busby whilst the current crop of Scottish managers in the English Premier League in turn look up to Sir Alex. You only have to look at the statistics to see that Scottish managers are renowned for their loyalty and longevity within their clubs.
Sir Alex Ferguson for example is the longest serving manager in the league having been in charge of Man Utd for nearly 25 years. David Moyes is in fourth position having managed Everton for 9 years. Paul Lambert, Steve Kean and Owen Coyle have been with their clubs (Norwich, Blackburn and Bolton respectively) for less than 2 years but there is no reason why they won’t go on to manage their clubs for a long time. Kenny Dalglish who is in his second spell at Liverpool only left first time round due to ill health and was back at the club before he was appointed manager as a Club Ambassador.
Other Scottish managers have plied their trade in the Premier League with reasonable success. George Burley had a fantastic run with Ipswich Town in 2000-2001 result culminating in winning the Manager of the Year award and also reaching the UEFA cup. Graeme Souness has also had spells with Liverpool, Blackburn and Newcastle in the English Premier League, Gordon Strachan (Coventry and Southampton),George Graham (Arsenal, Tottenham and Leeds) Walter Smith (Everton) and most recently Alex McLeish with Birmingham. We have also seen Joe Jordan, Gary McAllister and Steve Clarke in Assistant Manager roles at Tottenham, Aston Villa and Liverpool. Steve Nicol, John Spencer and Mo Johnston, both former Scottish internationals are also highly respected managers within Major League Soccer in the USA.
Some of the top pundits and commentators within the game are Scottish. Andy Gray at SkySports and now TalkSport, Alan Brazil also at TalkSport, Craig Burley at ESPN and Alan Hansen for the BBC. When they talk, people listen. When these people provide analysis on a match they sometimes sound harsh but authoritative and their views are highly regarded. You don’t hear many people from the North West or the West Country on the radio or television!
So in conclusion the question remains “Why are there so many Scottish managers in the Premier League”? I think the simple answer is firstly that they have many successful role models to follow, they are unbelievably passionate, they have a fantastic work rate and desire to succeed and they start to learn the trade whilst they are still playing. With 4 of the current Scottish managers in the English Premier League in their early 40’s we may possibly see another Sir Alex in the coming years.