As you’d expect, I read a lot of football media.
Some of it, the ‘tabloid’ style hysteria that has very little relationship with fact.
But much of the media I read is designed to be more ‘highbrow’.
The kind of media where they talk about ‘systems’ and ‘false nines’ and inverted wingbacks and all the technical tosh that the last twenty years has given us.
And in that particular area of football media, the last few months has seen a real reaction to the appointment of the ‘old school’ British managers at several top Premier League clubs.
I’ve read articles questioning why on earth Sam Allardyce has got the job at Everton, why Palace have gone Roy Hodgson, why David Moyes received the call-up from West Ham, and why Pardew got the gig at West Brom.
They point towards people like David Wagner at Huddersfield and Marco Silva at Watford as evidence that ‘going foreign’ will give your side a new perspective, and that the British managers only get the big jobs because of their names.
For me the whole debate is moot – it shouldn’t really come down to your nationality; it should be solely based on whether you are the right candidate for the job.
But whether we’ve been critical of these appointments or not, we have to examine the evidence.
And on the evidence so far, it’s fair to say that several of these managers are proving people wrong.
Take Roy Hodgson at Palace. He took over with the club at rock-bottom – no goals scored, every game lost.
Palace are now up to 14th. Admittedly, the whole bottom half of the league is really rather close, but it’s impossible to overlook the fact that Hodgson has masterminded some results.
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 17, 2017
He’s come in, restored confidence and made Palace hard to beat, and their Saturday lunchtime win over Leicester proved that they can win games without resorting to long-ball football.
Or David Moyes at West Ham, one place below Palace in 15th. After a tricky first couple of games, the Hammers have picked up seven points from their last three outings; an even more impressive feat when you consider that two of the games were against Arsenal and Chelsea.
David Moyes last 3 games in charge of West Ham…
West Ham 1-0 Chelsea
West Ham 0-0 Arsenal
Stoke 0-3 West Ham
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) December 16, 2017
Or Sam Allardyce. Everton were in turmoil at the start of this season, having spent a huge amount of money under Ronald Koeman in the summer.
Allardyce has come in, organised the side, and got them firing once again – they’re now up into 10th place after only managing one win in the first two months of the season.
— Everton (@Everton) December 17, 2017
These names are familiar names, and they’re much derided names, too.
Allardyce is notorious for his long-ball football, Hodgson’s reputation has been severely tarnished by his failure with England, and we all know about David Moyes’ woes over the last four years.
But they’ve all been brought in to do a job, and at present, they appear to be doing exactly that.
It’s fair to say that football media does get too big for its boots sometimes.
Journalists will look at foreign managers like Klopp, or Wagner, and see the charm, the humour and swagger, and compare it favourably to the names that we all know.
But ultimately, the proof is in the pudding, and the boards in charge of West Ham, Everton and Crystal Palace have made decisions to go with tried and tested managers who understand the Premier League and have a proven track record.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not decrying the idea of ‘going foreign’, but I guess the point here is that there is no singular right approach – whatever the trendy football media types will tell you.
Not everyone has to wear skinny ties and believe in total football, and actually it’s the diversity that makes football the game it is today.
It might not be hipster to support the old-school guys like Allardyce, Hodgson and Moyes, and I have derided all three in the past for various failures. But if we are going to criticise, we must praise them, too.
And right now, all three deserve praise. Alan Pardew? Not so much…