It must be great being a British manager. Whether you’re in or out of work, you will almost never be criticised in the mainstream media.
A couple of years ago, when Tim Sherwood was being touted for the Spurs job, Jamie Redknapp said he should get it because he was a “proper football man”, as though that was an actual thing.
It seemed patently ludicrous to me at the time, and as a result, I turned the whole notion of a PFM into an easily parodied archetype. It’s since become a good shorthand way to describe a certain type of British football person.
I have noticed the term isn’t used as much now by the PFM choir, possibly because it’s had the pish taken out of it so much, but rest assured, the rubbish spouted about British managers is still out there. Week in, week out, we hear things being said about British managers that beggars belief. And this weekend was no different. If you’re a British manager, you will almost never be criticised and will always be vaunted.
Ex-Sunderland full back Michael Gray said on Talksport, after the Villa thrashing by Liverpool: “Villa sacked Sherwood. A good Englishman. He wouldn’t have allowed this to happen.”
This is classic PFM hype, uttered regardless of facts. Sherwood wasn’t any good at Villa. The results show that. Why would he have not “allowed” a 6-0 defeat to happen? Sherwood doesn’t have the power to “allow” anything, as his tenure so well proved. What does it all mean, Mickey? And why are you even referring to his nationality? Oh and Garde has actually out-performed Sherwood in points per game.
But what’s this? Over on 606, Robbie Fowler was having a go at Remi Garde for “not showing any passion” on the touchline. This is another weird thing that the pro-British commentariat always go on about. Whether it’s shouting a lot, or literally just standing up, the foreign who doesn’t behave like a raging Brit is always a poor second best to these people. Ryan Giggs should take over at Old Trafford because he stands up. Yes. It’s been said.
You’ll also notice that Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland are still in the relegation places. Heard any criticism of him? No. He’s made of Teflon wrapped in Kevlar. His losses largely ignored, his wins lauded. Still second bottom, though.
It’s so ironic that Allardyce, in his legendary Allardici comment, was so paranoid about being put down as an Englishman, when the reality is that his nationality excuses him from almost any critique at all. Ask yourself this – have you ever heard anyone in the mainstream media say anything negative about Allardyce? No. You haven’t. It’s wrong. In fact, it’s ridiculous. It’s pathetic how craven so many given a voice in the English media are to such managers.
Look at how Alan Pardew is talked about as Crystal Palace manager in certain circles. When he was doing really well, it was all about how Newcastle fans had driven him out and my, my they were stupid for doing that, because he’s so good. Now that it’s all turned a bit rubbish, this is routinely described on Soccer Saturday and elsewhere as just some sort of blip. I even heard it said that he often went through these phases of not winning, and that it was nothing to worry about. Like it was just a spell of bad weather that would blow over.
In this worldview, it is as though Pards is great, almost regardless of what he actually does. Same goes for Mark Hughes and Tony Pulis. In fact, that’s the PFM agenda, right there. British managers are great, no matter what they do and they always need more time, more money and more belief in them and they are being persecuted for their nationality.
Last Monday, Sean Dyche even postulated the idea that English managers tactics are criticised as being old-fashioned, even when they’re the same as a foreigners’, and that being English is almost a handicap. It went relatively unchallenged.
It goes on and on.
It’s ironic really because conversely, an overseas manager has to do incredibly well to garner praise. If an Englishman had taken over from an Italian at Leicester City, do you really think that so many English ex-player pundits would insist on telling us that the current table-topping success was all down to the previous foreign man? No. It would be 100% down to the new Englishman.
But still the ceaseless “a mention for Nigel Pearson, who bought all these players”, and variants thereof, has been an especially clunky riff this season. The fact he dragged them out of the mire where he himself had put them is, at best, a score draw. And then there’s the rest of it. Pffft. Do me a favour.
Still doubt the English manager is over-vaunted? Imagine for a moment if an overseas manager looked as worried during a game as Steve McClaren. Imagine what would be said about him. Remember the levels of opprobrium heaped on Southampton for appointing Mauricio Pochettino when he took over from Nigel Atkins at Southampton? The PFMs were up in arms. A good English manager had been sacked in favour of a foreign. It was wrong. But it wasn’t, was it?
In some ways it’s not surprising that this poor quality critique of English managers is performed by almost every single British ex-player, but ironically they’re doing all those they seek to promote a great disservice. So many see their vacuous nonsense for what it is, that they might increasingly flinch from appointing any British manager, said to be really good, fearing he has merely had an easy ride from the press and that friends in the media are over-rating him. The constant refrain for the ‘Arry mob that English managers don’t get a shot at the big time is only made more self-fulfilling by their blow-hard tendencies.
When will it stop? I doubt it ever will. The PFM is here to stay. All we can do is laugh at them.