Has the decline and fall of the English football manager reached its nadir? We can but hope so for a much-maligned species of the world’s favourite sport.
It is a shameful reality that the Premier League has never been won by an English manager in 26 years of existence – and certainly won’t be this season.
Even more damning, surely, is the fact that only four of the 20 bosses in England’s top division are English, with two of that quartet now veterans past their 70th birthday.
Compare this to the Bundesliga, where 14 of the 18 coaches are German. The figure for locals is 18 out of 20 in Serie A, in France it is 17 out of 20 in Ligue 1, while 15 of La Liga’s 20 top men are Spanish.
This is how it should be: some outside influence and inspiration but with the majority promoted from within a nation’s own game.
So why are the statistics so grim in England? There are myriad explanations, including the high percentage of clubs with overseas owners, the vast wealth that allows clubs to buy “reputation”, and a strong element of fashion and snobbery.
A vicious circle of contempt has developed for English managers. More and more jobs filled by foreign imports means less and less opportunity for home-grown leaders.
The statistics themselves are shameful; so is the widespread tolerance of this insulting trend by fans, media and players. The culture of the game has grown rotten in this regard, self respect crushed by greed.
Will it ever change? Indeed, can it ever change? Well, maybe, just maybe, there are glimpses of hope.
One of the few English managers in the Premier League, Eddie Howe, has inspired minnows Bournemouth to make a strong start this season, playing attractive, organised football with a squad of unsung talents.
In any other country, his accomplishments in taking a tiny outfit into the top flight for the first time in their history and then keeping them up for at least four years would already have earned him a major job.
Maurizio Sarri, for example, had achieved less when invited to take charge of Napoli.
Howe should be at the top of the list whenever Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal or Manchester United next decide to change their manager. But these clubs will almost certainly avoid football logic and instead heed the sound of derision that would inevitably fill the airwaves of radio phone-ins and social media, amid the demand for a “big name”.
But why, you may ask, are Chelsea and Liverpool not included on that list?
Well, there is good reason.
Another cause for optimism about the English manager is the positive start made by Frank Lampard in control of team affairs at Derby County in the Championship. John Terry has also begun life in the dugout as an assistant boss at Aston Villa. And that is where Chelsea are likely to look in the future.
A further ray of hope is the way Steven Gerrard has taken like a duck to water in Glasgow as the new manager at Rangers, which is no easy job for a novice. That is where Liverpool will turn next.
We must hope that these young hopefuls turn the tide of perception to bring the English manager back into vogue.
It is profoundly untrue that England has no decent managers and coaches. The problem for too long is that they have not been allowed opportunity.
Maybe one route is for more to travel abroad and return with a reputation. That was the path taken by the unheralded Graham Potter, who performed miracles at Ostersund in Sweden and is now in the process of turning round the fortunes of Swansea City.
This pattern is working for young players such as Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount.
Perhaps the most telling example of the wind of change, though, is the rise of Gareth Southgate, who is as eloquent and impressive as they come.
His appointment with England was initially greeted with serious scepticism, but he took his chance as national manager and, with his quiet intelligence, Southgate moulded a modern style of football that took his team to the World Cup semi-finals and, more recently, a famous away victory against Spain.
Whisper it very quietly, but it looks like the only way is up.
The Premier League has never been won by an English manager in 26 years of existence
Promise...Derby County manager Frank Lampard (centre) has made an impressive start to his new career