With England’s World Cup campaign now just around the corner, all eyes are likely to be on the country’s leading players as they battle it out to earn their place in Roy Hodgson’s squad. The intense build-up to the tournament is also likely to unite fans and pundits alike in discussing the advantages and, more significantly, the limitations that Hodgson faces as he prepares to guide England on their Brazilian venture.
The debate surrounding the lack of homegrown players in the English top flight compared to other nations is a common feature in this now routine argument. However, in the dugout, there is slightly more positive news for those who lament the decreasing amount of leading English figures in the Premier League.
At the beginning of the 2013/14 season, eleven of the twenty managers in charge of Premier League teams were of British descent. Recently, another treasured addition to that list has been completed at White Hart Lane. After Andre Villas-Boas’ dismissal as Tottenham manager following an embarrassing 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool, Tim Sherwood was promoted from his role as technical director to head coach after a two-game spell in temporary charge.
It was bold move by Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to entrust Sherwood - once a midfielder with the North London club - with the top job, given that he had no previous managerial experience. It will also be a tough first challenge for Sherwood as a manager given the high expectations surrounding White Hart Lane, with Villas-Boas getting the sack despite Spurs sitting in seventh on the table and remaining unbeaten in Europe.
This only added to the surprise surrounding Sherwood’s appointment, particularly considering that people such as former boss Glenn Hoddle and current Spurs technical director Franco Baldini were made early favorites for the hot seat. In addition to Villas-Boas, Levy’s recent appointments have included Spaniard Juande Ramos, Martin Jol of Holland, and former French national team manager Jacques Santini, although probably the most successful period of his tenure came under Harry Redknapp.
But Levy’s brave call in appointing Sherwood provides an excellent opportunity for another English coach to develop his ability and establish himself at the very pinnacle of the footballing pyramid, something that is always a welcome sight in the sport. Sherwood and Levy will be hoping the former midfielder fairs better than previous English managers as he looks to learn his trade in the Premier League.
After being named Harry Redknapp’s successor at Portsmouth in 2008, Tony Adams was sacked after just 12 games in charge at Fratton Park after managing just two wins in that time. Adams’ only previous managerial role prior to his appointment was an unsuccessful spell in charge of Wycombe Wanderers.
Meanwhile, Paul Ince endured a similarly difficult spell as Blackburn Rovers manager at the beginning of the 2008/09 season, lasting just four months before being axed following a difficult start to the campaign. Like Adams and Sherwood, Ince’s appointment was seen as a risk given his only experience at the time had been in League Two at Macclesfield Town and MK Dons.
Tim Sherwood faces a difficult task in prolonging his career at White Hart Lane, especially as his expectations at Tottenham are likely to be much higher than Adams’ and Ince’s at their respective clubs. But he must be given time if he is truly going to have an impact on the club’s fortunes.
Levy has obviously identified something in Sherwood’s approach to management that he feels could prove effective, given that he was handed the role full-time after just two games in temporary charge. Sherwood’s aims for the time being must be to improve on Tottenham’s inconsistent home form and also to take points off their rivals for a Champions League place, which were issues that seemed to count against Villas-Boas.
But although the former Chelsea boss’ dismissal was harsh, it is nonetheless encouraging to see another English face in the dugout of one of the country’s leading domestic teams. Given the obsession of England fans with securing an English coach as manager of the national team in the aftermath of Fabio Capello’s reign, it is something that needs to be a recurring theme if English football is to make any significant progress.