Home / National Teams / Pride or Prejudice: English Football Doesn’t Need an English Manager


Of all the things that unite the modern world together, cell phones, the internet, 24 hour news, the largest impact is made by the game of football. From the humid streets of Bangkok, Thailand to the sands of Algiers, Algeria, to the green fields of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the sounds of football are heard every weekend. Either on the television or through kids playing with cheap soccer balls in the street no part of the world seems untouched or immune to the football bug. But the unity the love of football provides, ironically serves to divide us. Every four years the world unites in one place, with billions of eyes fixed on the TV, as the World Cup gets under way each in their own national jerseys and with their flags. For this most part, this is good natured and fun, but for some nations, it seems to be the last acceptable venue for old grudges to come out. The recent debate about whether the new manager of England’s national team, and whether he “needs to be English,” is more about nationalism than who would be the best at the job.

Fans in England jerseys in particular, sometimes take national pride too far. If you are ever lucky enough to be in the stadium for an England versus Argentina match, you’ll know what I mean. The most popular chant relates to the 1984 Falklands War between the two countries’, which England won, and goes “Where is your navy? At the bottom of the sea.”

While hilarious, it’s only acceptable to say this sort of thing in a football stadium, during the match, or in a pub watching it. The same is true for England versus Germany games during which Nazi jokes are all the rage and no one thinks there in bad taste. Pretty morbid stuff. (About once a year, a British anthropologist is trotted out to analyze the chants as a vestigial form of primitive cult religions.) For my part I think it’s about nationalism, something that has gone out of fashion as it tends to lead to other problems like accusations of xenophobia, racism, etc.

The new manager of England doesn’t need to be English for the same reason I have to laugh every time I watch England play at Wembley and you can hear “Football is Coming Home” belted out by the crowd. While England invented football, if you looked at where the best national teams are, and who has the most fans, football’s home is in a Brazil jersey, or Mexico City. Sure the EPL is the best league in the world hands down, and most of England’s national players play in it, but that doesn’t translate to success on the pitch. The idea that England needs an English manager is part of the myth that England’s national side is great at football and has been hobbled by the inept foreigners who don’t understand the English game. In truth, none of the best football managers of the modern era have been English. Sir Alex Ferguson, he’s Scottish, Scolari, he’s Brazilian, Mourinho, Portuguese; the English haven’t got a very good track record here. The real problems with the English team are the FA’s ludicrous meddling, exhausted top flight players who are more interested in playing for club than country, and the tabloid press that influence team selection (look at Rooney’s case). In the end, it’s a case of pride….not prejudice. But, the idea that England has to have an English manager to do well is bunk, just ask Big Phil.

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com


About the author: Matthew Wall


I've played soccer since I could walk thanks to my father and love keeping up on all the latest gear and gab. I'm in my twenties, and I'm lucky enough to have found work in search marketing for a leading soccer retailer after completing my M.A. at Georgetown in 2008. My team is Liverpool, and national side is Ireland, but I've also got a passion for GAA and a number of sports. Feel free to give me a shout on Google+


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