British Premier League managers: Are we finally nearing the end?
Roy Hodgson and Manuel Pellegrini will take a combined total of 72 years of managerial experience into the dug-outs at the London Stadium on Saturday.
After another 72 days in charge of Crystal Palace, Hodgson will become the oldest man to take the reins of a team in the Premier League when he will surpass Sir Bobby Robson’s record of 71 years and 191 days at Newcastle.
Forty-two years in management will have taught Hodgson that there is no such thing as certainty in his business. But although he has been suffering the trials of the job rather than the upside in recent weeks – he was particularly downcast after Palace’s defeat at Brighton on Tuesday – he has already proven once that he can dig the club out of trouble. He has the know-how and the wisdom to do it again. He should beat Robson’s record, although he will surely require the funds to bolster his thin squad come January.
Pellegrini, meanwhile has been a boss for just the 30 years since he started out at Universidad De Chile in 1988. At 65, his methods are just beginning to embed themselves at West Ham and they will be seeking their third straight win this weekend.
Hodgson, along with 70-year-old Neil Warnock (below, right) at Cardiff City are the old stagers flying the flag for English managers in the top flight.
At the same time, their younger counterparts Eddie Howe (above, left) of Bournemouth, Sean Dyche of Burnley and Brighton’s Chris Hughton comprise three of the four longest-serving bosses in the Premier League.
That is an encouraging fact. But that is it as far as home-grown chiefs go. Southampton were this week the latest club to be swayed back into the realms of the outfits who prefer the talents of foreign bosses when they appointed Ralph Hasenhutll to replace Welshman Mark Hughes.
It was a change-over which sparked little speculation suggesting that the job might go to those English and British managers who are usually called in to steady sinking ships.
Sam Allardyce, who rescued Everton last season, wasn’t in the running. Neither was David Moyes, who did the same job for West Ham. Alan Pardew had been Saints boss before and was unsuccessful in his bid to save West Bromwich Albion in the last campaign. Harry Redknapp, too, had been in charge at St Mary’s and is otherwise engaged, anyway, transfixing the nation on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Steve Bruce did not get a shout from the bookies.
Meanwhile, Fulham went for Italian Claudio Ranieri to replace Slavisa Jokanovic as they sought to find a way off the bottom of the table.
Allardyce, who is 64, had actually announced his retirement before he was persuaded to take the job at Goodison Park. Mission accomplished, the Portuguese Marco Silva, the man Everton had wanted all along, was whisked in quickly last summer.
These developments suggest that club owners – most of them foreign – are increasingly less impressed by the abilities of domestic bosses even when it comes to fire-fighting jobs. Even when it comes to landing positions outside of the top six elite.
It is 41-year-old Howe who is most commonly recommended as the younger English manager who might break-through to land one of the really big positions.
But it is 11 years since an Englishman, Stuart Pearce, was last in charge of the league leaders, Manchester City permanently.
At Manchester United, Ron Atkinson’s reign ended in 1986. It has been the same 32 years since an English coach, Steve Burtenshaw, was in charge of Arsenal – and then only briefly.
Glenn Hoddle was the last Englishman permanently in charge at Chelsea 22 years ago. Tim Sherwood got six months in command of Spurs in 2014. Hodgson, meanwhile, was Liverpool’s last English manager although he was allowed only seven months before departing in January, 2011.
Meanwhile, among the Premier League’s “less advanced” cohort of British and Irish bosses, Hughton (above) can hardly be considered a young hopeful at 59 no matter how good a job he is doing on the South Coast. And 45-year-old Dyche is enduring the tough time at Burnley this season that he always knew would arrive eventually.
For now, 71-year-old Hodgson, remains the only English Premier League boss to have taken on any of the really big jobs – with England, twice at Inter Milan, at Anfield and at Blackburn when they were big-time in the late Nineties.
Two very big names may come trundling over the horizon one day. Steven Gerrard at Glasgow Rangers and Frank Lampard at Derby County are making impressive managerial starts.
If they continue their progress, they have the kind of global profiles to impress foreign ownerships. But the blunt truth is that it will be some time yet before they are ready to plant the English flag back in a top six dug-out.