There has been quite a lot in the press this week about the importance of nepotism within football management. The same old faces seem to to turn up again and again and again. Consider the case of Glen Roeder. Roeder’s managerial career has been almost uniformly unsuccessful. His first season in charge of a club saw Gillingham have to win on the last day of the season to avoid dropping out of the Football League. He then lasted two years in the middle of the Championship with Watford before getting sacked with them bottom of the table. He then had a period just managing to keep Burnley from dropping into League Two, as assistant to Chris Waddle, before departing and spending five years in the England coaching set up for five years. When he returned to management, he had a good season at West Ham before his brain tumour struck in the middle of a relegation battle that they lost. He was sacked the following April. He then returned again for 15 months in charge at Newcastle United (notable, again, for a conspicuous lack of success) before being sacked at the end of May. So, where would Glen end up next? This man of many talents. This coach without a UEFA Pro licence, who had Freddy Shepherd pleading exenuating circumstances being the reason that he hadn’t got it (with all due respect, he had a brain tumour in 2003, and it’s now nearly the end of 2007 – he still hasn’t got it). The answer… Norwich City. Staring at relegation out of the top two divisions English football for the first time in nearly fifty years, they have brought in a man that has never won anything as a manager, and has presided over two relegations and a couple of close escapes. Why is this allowed to happen?
People wonder why there are no decent English managers any more, when the same old incompetent faces keep turning up again and again, and being allowed to throw money around like it’s going out of fashion. Bryan Robson, for example, wasted the money of Britain’s most patient chairman, Middlesbrough’s Steve Gibson. He then moved on to Bradford City, where he took just twenty-two points in his twenty-seven matches in charge, presiding over their relegation from the Championship. He then spent nearly two years at The Hawthorns, in charge of West Bromwich Albion, where he won just 23% of his eighty-one games in charge. He then took over at Sheffield United in the close season, where he has overseen a slump which has left The Blades just above a second successive relegation. I have a simple question for the chairmen of Sheffield United, West Bromwich Albion, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, West Ham United, Newcastle United and Burnley. Is getting the manager’s job at your club really that easy? I mean – if I applied, would I have a chance? Because, to be honest, I think I might have. I can talk a reasonably good game, and I bet I know more of the words to “On The Ball, City” than Glen Roeder does.
What this all means is that potential English coaching talent doesn’t get the chance that it deserves, which makes it all the more pleasing that Gillingham have decided to look down the football food chain and appoint Mark Stimson, formerly of Stevenage Borough. Stimson has a decent track record. He too charge at Grays Athletic with them in a relegation struggle in the Conference South, secured their safety and took them up to mid-table security the following season. He then took them into the Conference as Conference South by a margin of 23 points, and took them to a respectable position in that League before going to Stevenage last season. He took them to the Conference play-offs and they are in contention again at the time of writing. On top of this, he won the FA Trophy three times in a row at Grays and Stevenage. He deserves a shot in the Football League. Interestingly, Stevenage’s new manager is a former Gillingham manager – Peter Taylor, who also took charge of one England match just after Kevin Keegan jumped ship in 2000. Stevenage aren’t short of a bit of cash at the moment, and Taylor has managed at non-league level before at Dartford and Dover Athletic. There’s a small part of me that is thinking both Gillingham and Stevenage Borough have done a decent bit of business, there.