When considering who would replace Manuel Pellegrini as the new manager of West Ham United, the club had one main criteria – they wanted to go British.
David Moyes’ nationality, his availability, and his familiarity with not only West Ham, but the Premier League too, meant he would always figure prominently on the Hammers short-list. Moyes’ appointment also means there are now 11 British managers in the Premier League, more than half of the 20 managers currently in position.
A remarkable statistic, especially when considering only last December that after Austrian, Ralph Hasenhuttl, had replaced Mark Hughes at Southampton, the number of British managers had fallen to just five. They were Eddie Howe at Bournemouth, Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace, Sean Dyche at Burnley, Chris Hughton at Brighton and Neil Warnock at Cardiff City. The latter two left the league at the end of the season with Hughton fired and Warnock relegated.
Two of the current 11 managers – Brendan Rodgers at Leicester City and Frank Lampard at Chelsea – currently have their clubs in the top four. Rodgers also remains the last British manager to finish in that top four – when Liverpool were runners up under his guidance in 2013-14.
If Frank Lampard can keep his Chelsea side in the Champions League places, he will be the first English manager to do so since his uncle, Harry Redknapp, did it with Tottenham Hotspur in 2011-12.
The last English manager to finish higher than fourth was the great Sir Bobby Robson who took Newcastle United to third place in 2002-03. So, what is happening? Why are British managers now so back in fashion?
The Premier League has a global audience and wants to attract the best players. Although they have struggled to bring in players like Lionel Messi, it did manage to get Pep Guardiola and it seems the top managers like the organisation of the Premier League.
That had inevitably led to a fall in the number of domestic managers, as it has led to a decline in the number of British players, but just as there has been an encouraging upturn in opportunities for young home-grown players of late, so there seems to be a similar shift towards home-grown managers.
The likes of Graham Potter at Brighton and Chris Wilder at Sheffield United seem to be more innovative managers who have reacted to a perceived lack of opportunity by raising the management standards, which had slipped.
In the past, clubs in the Premier League had deliberately overlooked domestic talent and certainly wouldn’t go down the leagues to find it; instead they would opt for a foreign coach, partly because it became so fashionable and, more importantly, it appealed to the fans.
There is a balance to be struck which is to go for the best regardless of nationality. Arsene Wenger once said the very same when it came to signing players, and Wenger remains the template when it comes to a foreign manager succeeding in the Premier League thanks to his brilliant communication skills and excellent command of the English language.
Jurgen Klopp certainly has it, as do Jose Mourinho and Guardiola, and while it seems uncomfortable that speaking English well seems to be necessary to succeed in England, communicating in English also helps the connection with supporters. As the Premier League is the most passionate and emotional league in the world, that connection is necessary.