The Impact of Scottish Managers on the English Premier League

moyesDavid Moyes – Source:

Given the recent news of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes both parting ways with their respective clubs after monumental spells at the helm, I’ve been thinking a lot about the abundance of Scottish bosses we have in our game. They have an undeniable impact on our league, and I’m not sure they really get the recognition they deserve. It’s just not the kind of thing that instantly dawns on you, but for some time they have occupied a lot of the jobs in our top division and have often done a great job.

Starting first with the two that have been in the news. Sir Alex Ferguson just concluded a 26 year stint at Manchester United, transforming them into the biggest superpower in English football. He won 38 trophies during his time at the club, including 13 Premier League titles and two UEFA Champions League winners medals. He was responsible for the nurturing of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Paul Scholes. He got the best out of Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. His imprint on the English game is undeniable.

David Moyes is now set to take the hot seat at Old Trafford. He arrives off the back of an 11 year spell at Everton. He has operated with a limited budget and modest squad size consistently over the last decade and continued to overachieve. The Goodison Park club now have the expectation of a top six finish every year and the quest for a trophy becomes more important each year. Most Everton fans would admit that Moyes is the reason for these expectations. His ability to get the very best out of limited resources has allowed them to punch above their weight for far too long. He quit the post as one of the three longest serving managers in the league (including Fergie) last week and if given stability and security, will surely achieve big things at United.

Also currently managing in the Premier League are Steve Clarke at West Bromwich Albion and Paul Lambert at Aston Villa. The latter has had a difficult season and hasn’t quite secured survival yet for the Birmingham club. However, they have been on the ropes for a couple of years so survival would be success, especially given his trust and patience with a host of exciting, young players. Christian Benteke in particular seems to be destined to be something special. The potential is there to build a great team from these young players, and Lambert risk everything for that . Steve Clarke took the difficult job of replacing Roy Hodgson at The Hawthorns and has shone in his first experience, securing Albion a top half finish and putting together some great, attractive football. Malky Mackay will be joining these two next season, having just secured the N-Power Championship title and automatic promotion for Cardiff City.

West Bromwich Albion v Reading - Barclays Premier LeagueSteve Clarke – Source:

Some of the other notable names of the past are Walter Smith, Alex McLeish and of course Kenny Dalgish. Smith did a very solid job at Everton prior to David Moyes’ arrival. Alex McLeish made Birmingham a formidable defensive unit in the Premier League, helping them to consolidate in the top division. He also helped them win the League Cup, which brought European football to St. Andrews in the form of the Europa League. As for Dalglish, his recent stint at Liverpool saw him secure a domestic cup double. He was also one of the first ever managers to win of the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers in the 1994/95. All of these Scottish managers did a pretty good job and achieved some (in certain cases a helluva lot) of success.

So I guess the reason for this post is to look at the massive impact that Scottish managers have had on the English Premier League. However, it also makes me wonder, why doesn’t the Scotland national team ever really produce? It seems to me that they always have a solid squad containing numerous top flight stars and can’t seem to qualify for a major tournament these days. Surely if they hired one of these great managers that have been so successful in the league (especially Dalglish) they could have a real crack at qualification. I don’t know. I’ve always thought they underachieve as a national team, given some of the wonderful footballers they have given to the world. That goes twice for the managers.


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