From Frank Lampard to Steve Bruce: Can the legion of English Premier League managers seize the moment?

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 26 July 2019, 08:34

Frank Lampard and Steve Bruce make up an impressive legion of eight British managers in the Premier League this season.

Born at opposite ends of the country they will probably inhabit opposite ends of the table too.

Yet they share a common thread in that both men have been brought in at clubs which were a difficult sell to prospective managers.

They also embody their respective clubs and this will be the year when we discover whether bringing in ‘one of your own’ is a wise move.

Lampard played for 13 years for Chelsea, won everything and left as the club’s record goalscorer.

His potential as a successful manager of the future is not in doubt yet after only one year in full-time coaching there is a distinct risk factor attached to his appointment at Chelsea on a three year contract. Even senior people at the club admit that.

Derby County finished on a point less under Lampard last season than they did the year before.

Would Chelsea’s owner Roman Abramovich have gone for rookie Lampard had his club not been subject to a FIFA transfer ban?

The moment you cannot buy players in this day and age, many far more experienced and unemployed managers are simply not interested.

Up at Newcastle, Rafa Benitez walked out because he could not agree terms on a new deal or on the size of his transfer budget.

We are not in an era of great coaching or investing heavily in youth.

Bosses who can be sacked after a run of six bad results are understandably not interested in spending their time and energy on the young players just for the next manager’s benefit.

Despite it’s run of three major trophies in three years, fabulous training facilities and a neat stadium in London’s posh West End, Chelsea is a difficult sell.

Lampard would be the first to admit that.

A well-educated chap who went to private school in Essex, he has a firm grasp on the reality of football, which is why he insisted on the same pay package as his predecessor Maurizio Sarri.

Lampard is likely to see Bruce only twice this season and despite Chelsea’s issues, it is expected that Newcastle will be peering up the league table and not down.

Both are great clubs in their own right, representing vastly different values with Newcastle fans at least proud of their working class, often turbulent existence with little to show for it.

Bruce - a boyhood fan of the club he never got to play for - says he couldn’t resist the pull of ‘home’ when the job became vacant.

If there is one toxic brand in the Premier League, however, it is Newcastle United.

Unlike at Chelsea, it is the incoming manager who is taking all the risks.

Already ridiculed by the legions of soap-opera loving Geordie fans who wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if things went well at their club, Bruce is derided as a patsy.

Considered a puppet for despised owner Mike Ashley, Bruce has a huge battle on his hands.

By publicly insisting he is not a ‘yes’ man and that Ashley is ‘positive about the new season’, he is already fulfilling the prophecy.

Nobody with any sense believes that the next year will be anything but a massive struggle for Newcastle United, even with the arrival of a record-busting striker.

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Bruce is a lovely bloke. A wholehearted manager and old school in all the best ways with his approach to media and expectations of his players.

Lampard should be commended for grabbing what is football’s spikiest bunch of nettles with his bare hands by taking over at a club which has sacked nine managers since Abramovich took over in 2003 - an average of less than two years in the job for each of his victims.

We wish them well along with established figures Eddie Howe, Sean Dyche, Roy Hodgson plus Dean Smith, Brendan Rodgers, Chris Wilder and Graham Potter.

Maybe the tide is turning back and home-grown managers are now the must-have accessory in the cosmopolitan Premier League.

Yet it still feels as if our elite clubs only turn to the British blokes when there is nobody else more exotic brave enough to take the plunge.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough
(Burton Albion)
18th May
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