All hail the BYMs

Knowing a thing or two about the comings and goings inherent in the profession, it was the Geordie Messiah Kevin Keegan who offered the following particularly astute observation about football management:

"You know the bullets are in the gun, it’s just a question of whether it’s been loaded and pointed in your direction!”

Now my regular reader will know that I’ve had plenty to say in the past about the increasing short termism of the job, and now is not the time to re-visit that thorny old subject.

(Perhaps next week when Arsene Wenger is sacked after a particularly turbulent week at the Emirates, where he’s unable to fully answer the charge of “failing to build a long term model in developing young players”).

No, let’s just say for now that I’m over that, and my bullets have not been loaded.

Moreover, being a glass half full type, it has been possible to glimpse among the autumn carnage a very discernible shaft of light.

Yes folks, make way for the slow but steady ascent of the Bright Young Manager.

English football has often been accused of failing to develop its talent fully on the pitch, forever falling in the slipstream of those clever European and Latin technicians.

You know the ones, so good they only need one name, and usually one that has little or nothing to do with what Mr and Mrs Arantes do Nascimento originally had in mind (answers on a postcard to the Editor please).

Well hasn't that also been the case with coaching?

Remember Sven could do no wrong for most of his tenure as England manager and his epitaph was mostly frustration at what might have been.

Contrast that with the vitriol rained down on the head of Steve McClaren (now top of the Eredivisie with Twente Enschede, incidentally), to follow on a fine tradition which also included the late Bobby Robson.

Indeed the Editor of this fine periodical assures me that in the end even a World Cup winning medal didn’t shield Sir Alf Ramsey from abuse, but being too young to remember that, I can only take his word for it!

Yes yes, I know McClaren didn’t qualify and Sven did, and you can’t knock the stellar CVs of Messrs Capello, Ancelotti et al.

But there’s still a legitimate point that foreign managers tend to get a little more leeway before all manner of hell is inevitably let loose.

Sam Allardyce memorably stated that he would be appreciated a lot more had he been tanned and known as Sam Allardici.

I’ll leave the readers to make judgements themselves on how far a Brummie accent may or may not have contributed – sorry Sam, and all readers in the Birmingham area!

All of which brings me (eventually) to the ever-spinning management merry-go-round.

Whisper it quietly but it seems that now’s a good time to have performed very well in even the lowest division for Championship chairmen to come calling.

Mark Robins started the trend this season, skipping a division to deservedly earn a crack in the Chamiponship with Barnsley after sterling work with Rotherham.

Eddie Howe’s fantastic achievements with Bournemouth have not gone unnoticed and the latest BYM to come on the radar is Andy Scott of Brentford, having got them promoted from League 2 last season.

A welcome development too, it’s nice to see them being recognised.

Look at Wenger, Ferguson, O’Neill – they all began in much more humble surroundings than those they currently enjoy.

It’s a fickle business for sure, but the best can rise to the top if given the opportunity.

It’s whether they’ll ever be given the same time as the aforementioned – time to make their mistakes before building their legacies.

I mentioned those managers making a mark in League 2, but it goes below them too.

Keep an eye out for an old playing colleague of mine, Mark Cooper of Kettering, who’s destined for much bigger things before too long.

Mark and I briefly played together at Huddersfield back in the early 90’s… that’s 1990’s (stop sniggering at the back).

Back then he was a strolling midfielder (yes you were Mark!), but a good player nonetheless with a cannonball of a right foot.

Good genes too – he’s the son of Leeds and England full-back Terry Cooper.

After he finished playing Mark managed Tamworth before success there took him to Kettering, whom he’s consistently kept near the top of the league, while taking time out to knock former playing colleagues out of the FA Cup last year.

Honourable mention too, to Chris Wilder of Oxford United. He’s been in charge just over a year, and only lost four games.

Now that’s some record by any measure, and if it undoubtedly does get tougher the higher you go, then he’s another who’s earned the right to be there sooner rather than later.

Whether or not it's part of a trend remains to be seen, but it’s refreshing and a big fillip for those managers toiling away, that it’s not the same names being touted for jobs when the opportunity arises.

Of course, rather like the curse of the Manager of the Month, having 'outed' all the guys mentioned above, the law of Sod says that at least one will lose their next game, precipitating a downward spiral, involving injuries to key players, getting sacked and possibly becoming an alcoholic.

Ah well, I need a few partners in crime. Your round Mark/Andy/Eddie/Chris/whoever. Make mine a large one!


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