During the last 15 years there has been a relentless upward trend of bringing in overseas coaches, with the proportion of foreign managers peaking in 2019.
But the proportion of top-flight managers from abroad has fallen as clubs prepared for, and came to terms with, Brexit restrictions on recruitment.
Under rules agreed prior to Britain leaving the European Union in January 2020, coaches recruited from the continent must receive a Governing Body Endorsement through the FA, in order to confirm they are of ‘the highest calibre and able to contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in England’.
To qualify for a GBE, potential managers have to meet specific criteria, which includes a total of 36 months first-team management in a major league within the previous five years, or 24 months consecutively in post, and the club they are planning to join must be without a manager.
‘It would appear to be [a Brexit effect],’ Jeremy Steele, chief executive of Analytics FC told Sportsmail.
David Moyes at West Ham United is one of the most established British managers in top flight
The proportion of coaches recruited from overseas to Premier League clubs has fallen
Eddie Howe, who took over at Newcastle, has also established himself in Premier League
‘We don’t know where that trend will go, it may come back up again. But Rob Edwards going all the way from Forest Green Rovers [crowned League Two champions last season] to Watford [who have been relegated from the Premier League] is a big sign.
‘That is an interesting indicator. Watford usually go for foreign coaches.’
‘Putting any restriction on recruitment is massive,’ added Steele.
When Manchester United recruited Ralf Rangnick in November 2021, he did not automatically qualify for a GBE, despite being a well-known and highly-respected figure in the British football industry.
Rangnick had held other roles, but his only head coach experience in the previous five years was a one-season stint at RB Leipzig from 2018-2019. As a result, his case had to be heard by an exceptions panel, which ultimately approved the appointment.
Dean Smith was one of the British managers in the Premier League last season, at Norwich
According to data from Analytics FC, less than 20 per cent of Premier League managers were from outside the UK in 2007. That figure peaked at around 65 per cent in 2019, but it has now fallen back to 50 per cent.
Steele highlights the circuitous route some British managers have had to take to obtain a shot at the big time. One of them is Graham Potter, who spent seven years masterminding the rise of Swedish minnows Ostersund from tier four to tier one and ultimately into the Europa League.
He then was given a chance at Swansea City in the Championship, where he burnished his credentials, before a surprise move to Brighton, where Potter is now flourishing in the top flight and heading into his fourth season.
However, about the time Potter moved to Ostersund, the Premier League, EFL and FA came together to launch the Elite Player Performance Pathway, an initiative designed to improve English coaching and deliver more and better homegrown talent.
England are edging closer to an international trophy with an outstanding crop of young players
It has led to a huge investment in coaching - £1.6billion - across the Premier League and EFL since 2012-13. And as a result, England is benefitting from a crop of fantastic footballers, who have come close to trophy-winning success at Euro 2020 and the 2018 World Cup; but it has also produced an unexpected windfall of excellent coaches.
Since 2012, the number of coaches working in the English academy system has increased from 250 to 800. So, there are more homegrown coaches to choose from.
’The pathway is much clearer for English coaches,’ added Steele. ‘And if the trend away from overseas coaches continues, the [domestic] talent is there to back it up.’
The English obsession with foreign managers can be seen clearly in the data. In 2007, less than 20 per cent of top-flight managers who played a role were from overseas that season.
In 2007, 20 per cent of top-flight managers were from overseas, including Martin Jol at Spurs
The four imports who finished the campaign included, Martin Jol at Tottenham, Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, Rafa Benitez at Liverpool and Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. Only one of the five managers sacked that season were from outside the United Kingdom: David O’Leary, who departed Aston Villa.
In contrast, at the end of 2020-21 season, nine of the managers in post at the end of the campaign were from overseas and that increased by two during last term.
In the Championship, the impact of overseas coaches is still less pronounced. The last season ended with five of 24 managers – almost 20 per cent - coming from abroad.
The shift to foreign coaches prior to Brexit is reflected in the managers who lifted the Premier League title. From 2007 to 2013, a British manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, won the Premier League title with Manchester United five times, Carlo Ancelotti claimed one victory for Chelsea and Roberto Mancini one for Manchester City.
Since Ferguson’s last triumph, six managers have steered four different teams to the pinnacle of English football and none of them have been British.
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