Where do the 72 Football League managers come from?

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 25 January 2017, 16:55

There has been a continuous debate of late over the apparent lack of English managers working in the top-4 tiers of English football.

But, while this may (currently) be the case in the Premier League - only four top-flight gaffers are English - the three divisions in the Football League portray a different story.

A sizeable 49 of the 72 managers and caretakers in the Football League originate from English shores, which in percentage terms is 68% - a significant amount compared to the Premier League, 20%.

It may be no surprise to hear that as you venture down the Football League pyramid the percentage of English managers increases: Championship (54%), League One (71%), and League Two (79%).

Meanwhile, British and Irish managers make up a whopping 64 of the 72 (89%) working in those three tiers, meaning only 8 (11%) gaffers come from foreign soil.


The Championship is currently home to nine different nationalities (including the dual nationality of Huddersfield’s David Wagner). England leading the way with 13 of the 24 managers (this includes the caretaker duo of Nottingham Forest’s Gary Brazil and Rotherham’s Paul Warne), while 18 are British or Irish.

However, after 27 matches this season only two of those 18 British or Irish managers are located in the top-6 of the division, Chris Hughton (Brighton) and Garry Monk (Leeds), who have both previously managed in the Premier League, and are each now bidding to have another crack at managing in the Promised Land.

The most high-profile gaffer in the division is undoubtedly Rafa Benitez (Spain), who has worked in the top-flight with Liverpool, Chelsea, and current club Newcastle, with whom he is looking to lead back up to the top-flight at the first-time of asking.

The other three bosses who, at the time of writing, reside in the play-off places are Jaap Stam (Netherlands), David Wagner (American/German), and Carlos Carvalhal (Portugal), who are all attempting to become Premier League managers for the first time.

In fact, a dozen of the 24 Championship incumbent’s have previously worked in the Premier League, showcasing the competitiveness of the second-tier.

Only four foreign managers have ever won promotion up to the Premier League, including Slaviska Jokanovic (Watford 2014/15), who has the chance to repeat that feat with current club Fulham.

Meanwhile, the bottom-half of the table is dominated by British and Irish managers who take up each of the 12 places: nine English, two Irish Scottish and one Scot.

(For argument’s sake we have included Owen Coyle, who represented the Republic of Ireland as a player, as Irish).

League One

There is only one manager, Uwe Rosler (Fleetwood), plying their trade in League One who isn’t from Britain or Ireland.

Rosler, who has previously managed Leeds, Wigan and Leeds, is attempting to lead the in-form Cod Army up to the Championship for the first time in their history. The club have roared up the table after going 11 games unbeaten, which includes a hugely impressive 2-0 victory away to league leaders, and promotion favourites, Sheffield United.

However, recent history is against Rosler, with the last 15 managers to win promotion from League One up to the Championship all coming from Britain. The last foreign manager to accomplish this was Gus Poyet (Uruguay) with Brighton back in 2010/11.

In total 17 of the 24 managers are English (including Port Vale caretaker Michael Brown and Bury caretaker Chris Brass), while there are four Scots, one Irishman, and one Northern Irishman.

12 of the last 15 managers to win promotion out of the third-tier have been English, with the other three Scottish (x2) and Welsh.

League Two

League Two, perhaps unsurprisingly, has the highest proportion of English managers (19 = 79%), and similarly to League One, there is only one foreign manager present in the 24 dugouts: Crewe boss David Artell (Gibraltar), although even he was born in England (Rotherham).

Artell only stepped into the managerial arena earlier this year (8th January), replacing long-serving boss Steve Davis, and his immediate task is saving the Railwaymen from the dreaded drop out of the Football League.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Netherlands) was the most recent foreign boss to catapult his troops (Burton) up into League One - hoisting the League Two trophy in 2014/15.

In fact, the Dutchman is the only non-British manager to pull this off since Paolo Di Canio (Swindon) back in 2011/12, while 12 of the last 16 promotion winning managers are English, along with three Scots.

Two Scotsman, in Darren Ferguson (Doncaster) and Derek Adams (Plymouth), currently occupy the top-2 places in the division, while four Englishmen and a Welshman make up the rest of the top-7.

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