Tag Archives: Mark Hughes

Hughes appointment highlights a tired trend in English game

The recent appointment of Mark Hughes at Southampton outlines a greater problem within English football.

With few options for clubs to turn to mid-season, where are all the young British managers ready to step into the frame?

The Bundesliga has recently seen a shift from the old guard to the new – young managers under the age of 40, sometimes promoted from running youth sides, are being ushered through the door and making their mark in the league.

And as other European nations are still seeing an increases in their numbers of top-qualified coaches, it is now all the more important that both the FA and Premier League clubs begin cultivating a managerial revolution of their own.

Jobs for the old boys

So far, it appears that the only real managerial opportunities offered within the English game are for those who have had expansive playing careers.

Although if you do have those aforementioned playing credentials, it can seemingly be fairly easy to drag yourself out of managerial obscurity.

‘Whether it be Mark Hughes, Roy Hodgson, Alan Pardew or Sam Allardyce, the same merry-go-round of managers appears to be prevailing in the Premier League’

Phil Neville, with a pretty dismal record as a coach, was appointed England Women’s manager this year after reportedly not even applying for the job.

Then soon after came the appointment of his former team-mate, Ryan Giggs, as Wales national team manager. A poor playing record for his country, and a lack of managerial experience, meant that questions were raised.

Only time will tell as to whether their transition to the sidelines is a success or not, but it continues the trend of only employing familiar faces.

Hughes, on the other hand, is in the old guard of familiar Premier League faces. Undoubtedly, the former Man Utd, Barcelona, Chelsea and Saints striker has had varying success over the years and on occasions put together some excellent sides.

But if you considering he guided Stoke into the relegation places before being sacked earlier this season, was he really the best option Southampton had at their disposal?

Whether it be Hughes, Roy Hodgson, Alan Pardew or Sam Allardyce; the same merry-go-round of managers appears to be prevailing in the Premier League, and you feel it is beginning to become stale.

A German coaching renaissance

One young outlier in the Premier League would be Eddie Howe at Bournemouth; who was forced into early retirement due to injury, affording him a quick route into management.

Current Hoffenheim manager, Julian Nagelsman, similarly had his career cut short by injury. This immediately led him into coaching both Augsburg and Hoffenheim’s youth sides from 2008 to 2011.

A rapid rise within the infrastructure at Hoffenheim led him to be appointed assistant in 2012 and eventually manager in 2013, as then boss Huub Stevens suffered with health issues.

Still only 30, Nagelsmann has now reportedly been earmarked as the next Bayern Munich manager after almost guiding Hoffenheim to the Champions League group stage this season for the first time in the club’s history.

Nagelsmann has quickly been earmarked as the future of German Coaching. @achtzehn99en

Nagelsmann is now offering a fresh and exciting face to German football, to go along with coaches such as David Wagner (Huddersfield), Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool) and Daniel Farke (Norwich) that have since departed Germany for the shores of England.

The Hoffenheim boss, unlike Howe at Bournemouth, is not the single example of this kind of internal promotion within the Bundesliga.

Domenico Tedesco, 32 (Schalke) and Hannes Wolf, 36 (Stuttgart) have all been similarly gifted the opportunity to coach early on at the highest level – both so far having great success and neither household names in German football.

Norwich City and Huddersfield Town so far have been the only clubs to make this move so far in England – both poaching their current managers from Borussia Dortmund, neither previously having top flight managerial experience.

Though Norwich currently sit in an underwhelming 13th in the Championship, it undoubtedly has been a gamble that has more than paid off for The Terriers.

After getting them promoted to the English top flight last season for the first time in more than 50 years, they currently sit 15th in the Premier League and strong survival prospects.

Whether clubs decide to begin promoting coaches internally in the Premier League remains to be seen. But with many experienced Premier League coaches staring down relegation this season, it may soon be the key to injecting fresh ideas into the first team.

Disparity in numbers

At a grass roots level, the coaching statistics suggest a lack of young coaches coming through – Matt Scott reported in the Guardian in 2010 that there were only 2,769 UEFA A, B and Pro Licence English coaches.

‘In Germany, it costs just £800 to take your UEFA A licence badge, whereas in England the same badge would set you back £2,965’

Spain on the other hand had 23,995, Italy 29,420 and Germany 34,790 top qualified coaches. After an official report was published back in 2007 that said coaching was the ‘golden thread’ to international success, it seems odd that English football still is yet to fully tackle this issue 11 years on.

The crux of the problem has always appeared to be funding – reported in 2016 that it still could set you back £4,000 in England and £5,000 in Scotland to gain all the badges required for an UEFA A licence – their seems to be little progress in terms of accessibility.

Just one example of the large disparity in pricing is in Germany; where it costs just £800 to take your UEFA A licence badge, whereas in England the same badge would set you back an extortionate £2,965.

It seems no surprise then that young coaches may be deterred from this career path, given that its a self-funded venture.

So far the FA has only reshaped the Level 1 and 2 badges to incorporate ‘fun’ back into it; along with releasing half of their coaching tutors after an internal review.

All these reactions however seem to be somewhat missing the point – young people who aspire to be coaches are not simply bored by the courses or are badly tutored – it’s the fact those in power have made these qualifications un-achievable to a large proportion of the population.

With all the money now in the English game, the thought of an in-accessible system to learn your coaching stripes should be ludicrous in this country. Yet, in 2018 it sadly is the reality.

As the revolving door of ex-player-turned-manager continues to spin and the FA continue to make no real effort to aid young coaches, British football is at risk of stagnating.

Gunners show their grit at snowy Stoke

One win in eight visits to the Britannia Stadium for Arsenal under Arsene Wenger.

It’s the stat that explains why Gunners fans dread the long journey to Stoke more than most away trips.

The Britannia is often portrayed as one of the most hostile locations for other teams to play at, a feared assault course for Premier League players to negotiate.

“When Tony Pulis was their manager, Stoke seemed to enjoy bullying opponents at the Britannia”

This year’s expedition to the Potteries from north London was accompanied by snow and ice, adding to the dread felt by the travelling hordes.

 I have family in Manchester which I go to see occasionally and I’ve had the opportunity to make several trips to Stoke to support Arsenal over the years, usually heading back south after yet another disappointment.

Would it be different this season? With Arsenal tipped by many for their first title since 2004, getting something at Stoke City would surely be a good omen for their ambitions.


Would the Gunners be helped by Stoke’s more attractive style of play under Mark Hughes? When Tony Pulis was their manager, they seemed to enjoy bullying opponents at the Britannia.

One thing that didn’t help them was the absence of the in-form Mesut Ozil. The German midfielder missed out because of a foot injury, allowing Mohamed Elneny to make his debut. The 23-year-old Egyptian recently completed his transfer from FC Basel.

After a 3-3 draw at Liverpool in their previous match, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started in the number 1o role, with Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey in the starting line up – the latter making this his 250th appearance for Arsenal – at the hub of midfield.

The hosts were unchanged from the line-up that defeated Norwich City. Stoke’s combination of pace and strength has left many teams with an uphill battle this season especially at home, with victories over both Manchester clubs and Chelsea. Would Arsenal be their next victim?


The match got off to a slow start, and it took 20 minutes for the first serious threat from Stoke as Jonathan Walters found Marko Arnautovic outside the Arsenal box. The Austrian’s inventive flick made space for Afellay 20 yards out but his dangerous-looking strike went a yard or so wide.

“Butland was called upon again shortly afterwards when he was forced to tip over a fizzing effort from Oxlade-Chamberlain”

That seemed to spur Arsenal to switch on, and they pushed up the other end and created the best chance of the half.

Joel Campbell was the innovator, finding space 25 yards out before slipping the ball into the path of Olivier Giroud.

The Frenchman got clear of the hosts’ back four but saw his well-placed effort gathered up by Butland, who had charged out to narrow the angle.

The young England goalie was called upon again shortly afterwards when he was forced to tip over a fizzing effort from Oxlade-Chamberlain. At the other end, Petr Cech saved Joselu’s header as an evenly-matched first period ended.


Arsenal could have taken the lead only 70 seconds after the restart. Again, it was Giroud who went close, with a strong header from Ramsey’s corner which forced Butland to make a outstanding reflex save at the near post.

“Arsenal weren’t losing, and their solid performance was a big improvement on what their fans were so used to seeing at Stoke”

The visitors were making progress, as Giroud and then Theo Walcott both had penalty claims waved away before Stoke rallied.

With Nacho Monreal pushing up, the home side counter-attacked, working the ball around well to make a good opportunity for Joselu who cleverly turned away from Laurent Koscienly before seeing his well-hit strike tipped away by Cech at full stretch.

Bojan looked set to take advantage of the rebound but the ever-alert Cech shuffled back to divert his shot wide.

Joselu then forced Cech into another fantastic save midway through the second half, although the visitors were by now pushing up into the final third without making it count.


But Arsenal weren’t losing, and their solid performance was a big improvement on what their fans were so used to seeing at Stoke.

Cech has, of course, made a big difference, keeping his team in games and  earning valuable points for the Gunners which might have slipped from their grasp. 

“For once, the journey home from Stoke was not a completely deflating one for Arsenal fans”

With the match becoming more stretched, Wenger brought on Alex Iwobi. The 19-year-old striker helped make a late opportunity for the Gunners, providing Oxlade-Chamberlain with a decent through ball to play into the lively Campbell who agonisingly curled it over the bar.

There was time for one more opportunity for Stoke but, fortunately for Arsenal, Ramsey was correctly positioned to clear Walters’ direct header off the line before Cech booted Joselu’s rebound shot clear to guarantee the point.

So an even contest ended at 0-0, thanks mainly to some world-class goalkeeping towards the end of the match. Arsenal kept their title challenge on track and, for once, the journey home from Stoke was not a completely deflating one for their fans.