Yes, well, yes, in my opinion. Following a day of hearing endless opinions, I sat getting increasingly frustrated at some of the views. The one that really got me riled up was the idea that the Premier League wanted lots of new rising foreign managers and players. It is that sort of thinking that has held back our National team, and although money is dominating modern football, is it worth bringing in the next big Chilean or Algerian footballer just to win television rights. In my opinion, there is often an equivalent homegrown option. In the Spanish League, only 3 non-EU players are allowed, unless they have spent five years in Spain and applied dual-citizenship (e.g. Lionel Messi). This has resulted in the Spanish National team thriving, with so many of their top players playing together within many of the best Spanish sides.
By comparison, English squads are allowed 17 non-homegrown players in their squad. This has meant a very restricted pool of players to pick from. This article however is not about that, but it is about the same train of thought. The Premier League allows these rules so clubs can bring in star players from all over the globe, promoting this over quoted phrase, “The best league in the world”. This season summarised that idea and thought pattern. Not only was the transfer window filled with giants e.g. Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Gabriel Jesus, but the build up to the season was largely focused around the men off the field.
Managerial rivalries were focused on and many were calling it the best managerial line up ever seen in one league. Mourihnio would resume his ongoing battle with Guardiola. Italian mastermind Antonio Conte arrived to resurrect Chelsea, whilst Jurgen Klopp was to continue repairing Liverpool’s pride. Arsene Wenger was ready to have another run at the title and Mauricio Pochettino sought to show The Citizens why they should have never let him go. Ranieri resumed his wonder work and Koeman headed toward a battle to break into Europe. There was no mention of Sean Dyche continuing his wonders with Burnley or Eddie Howe facing another difficult season with Bournemouth.
This billing of foreign Premier League managers and players has secured a record TV rights deal from 2016-2019. This surely will only drive the thinking that financially, all this importing is beneficial and will secure the constant progression of the Premier League. So have we left it too late to ask the question around which this article is based? Are we too far gone down this path where we insist on looking elsewhere for the next big thing, be it a player or a manager?
The answer is no. I think an English manager will win the Premier League sooner than most think. We are possibly on the verge of the departure of Arsene Wenger, and with one man strongly linked to the England job, as well as Wenger, he could be in the running for the Arsenal job following Wenger’s departure. Eddie Howe sits at 14/1 in the betting (Skybet) to take over as the next Gunners boss and I think he is the right man for the job. If I am right, Howe will have a very good squad already, as well as a transfer budget to get Arsenal back in the Champions League.
Arsenal probably risk losing Sanchez, (see my last article), and Ozil if they fail to pull off a miracle in their last three games, with both wanting to play on Europe’s grandest stage. Howe has overseen the revival of Wilshere who will return this summer. Wilshere has taken part in 27 games and played 1912 minutes, more than any season since the 10/11 season, his breakthrough season with Arsenal. He will not play for the rest of the season after breaking his leg, but on his return, who better to nurture his talents than Eddie Howe.
Eddie has also got his Bournemouth side scoring freely, sitting 7th out of the 20 sides, and above Manchester United. Not only that, but his acquisition of Joshua King on a free transfer has proved inspiring, with the Norwegian scoring 15 goals this season, the same as Eden Hazard and Jermaine Defoe. He also got Nathan Ake on loan from Chelsea, a player whose talents proved so promising, the league leaders recalled him. His tactical nous, man management, combined with the financial and footballing power of Arsenal could see Howe claim the coveted title of Premier League Champions.
There are other managers who may take the step up to the Premier League at some point in their careers. Shaun Derry showed great prowess to come in late in the season to save Notts County from relegation and had a solid first full season with Cambridge United. Exeter manager Paul Tisdale is still young for a manager despite over ten years service and has taken Exeter to the play-offs, despite limited resources in a very competitive league. Nigel Clough could yet follow in his father’s footsteps despite facing a lot of challenges during his two tenures with Burton Albion.
Sean Dyche is already in the Premier League and has done an incredible job with Burnley, having joined when Howe took over Bournemouth. Dyche has twice taken the club to the top tier of English football and it would be interesting to see what he could do at a top seven side.
All of this points to plenty of opportunity for English managers. It would just need the right vacancy for the right manager at the right time. Hope is not lost and while money may keep tightening its’ grasp on the footballing world, it does not close the door to an English Manager lifting that trophy.