Justin makes case for English bosses

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

NEW­PORT boss Justin Ed­in­burgh made him­self pub­lic en­emy No.1 in Brighton with an ap­par­ent pop at new Seag­ulls boss Os­car Gar­cia. Speak­ing ahead of his side’s re­mark­able 3-1 League Cup vic­tory at the Amex, the for­mer Spurs full-back said: “I don’t know Gar­cia but, for me, there are a lot of good, young man­agers here who have been suc­cess­ful that I feel could do a bet­ter job than him – and that dis­ap­points me.”

Now, I know Ed­in­burgh and he’s a qual­ity guy – hum­ble, straight-talk­ing and about as big-time as a Boo­tle bin man. I’d bet my mort­gage that he didn’t mean to bat­ter Gar­cia.

The is­sue that Ed­in­burgh was – quite rightly – try­ing to high­light is that man­agers in the lower leagues are fed up with be­ing over­looked for big jobs.

Dur­ing the sum­mer I was chat­ting to Paul Fair­clough, who won the Con­fer­ence with Steve­nage and led Bar­net into the Football League.


“I passed my full badge when I was 28 and I naively thought that ev­ery door would open to me,” said Fair­clough, now 63. “But they all stayed firmly closed. I didn’t know the right peo­ple, have the right his­tory. I was very dis­il­lu­sioned.

“Even­tu­ally I rea­soned that the only way I would get into football was to find a club in Non-League and win my way up the pyra­mid.”

Fair­clough, of course, did win his way into the League. So too – af­ter ten years of slog with the likes of Bil­ler­icay, Fisher Ath­letic and Grays – did Ed­in­burgh.

But there are hun­dreds more who don’t. Men who deal with part-time play­ers, serve ma­ni­a­cal chair­man, keep clubs afloat on the pro­ceeds of three­fig­ure gates.

There are those who would ar­gue that such ex­pe­ri­ence is ir­rel­e­vant in the Football League, but try telling that to Crewe fans.

A few years ago, their man­ager Steve Davis was wash­ing the kits at Nantwich Town and dou­bling up as the club’s com­mu­nity worker. In the last 18 months, he has led the Rail­way­men to pro­mo­tion and the FA Tro­phy.

Neil Warnock cut his teeth in Non­League. So did Martin O’Neill. Even Alex Fer­gu­son had to start at the very bot­tom of Scot­tish football. The tal­ent is there. The is­sue isn’t for­eign v Bri­tish. It’s ex­pe­ri­ence v rep­u­ta­tion.

For­eign coaches come with a cer­tain ca­chet, as do fa­mous for­mer play­ers. Things like qual­i­fi­ca­tions and ex­pe­ri­ence fail to sparkle along­side win­ners’ medals and ex­otic names.

It’s why Roy Keane keeps get­ting jobs, why Stale Sol­bakken was ap­point-

ed by Wolves de­spite his bla­tant un­suit­abil­ity for the role.

Com­pared to other top Euro­pean coun­tries, the UK has very few qual­i­fied coaches. It is des­per­ate for more.

But if their only prospect is a slog around Non-League, where’s the in­cen­tive?

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

HORSE POWER: Mounted po­lice come on at Deep­dale IS it me or are pitch in­va­sions get­ting earli-er? Once,

it was only when your team won a cup fi­nal

or sealed the ti­tle. But in the last few years

they’ve been pop­ping up all over the

shop – last game of the sea­son, beat­ing

a half-de­cent team in the cup, the first leg

of a play-of f match. Now Pre­ston fans have

taken it to new ex­tremes by burst­ing

from the stands in the first round of the

League Cup. At this rate, it’s only

a mat­ter of time un­til play­ers are

chair­lifted off the field for a pre-sea­son vic-to

ry at Heybridge Swifts.

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