Justin makes case for English bosses
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?
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.