The future for BAME managers

By Eliot Goodyer

The sacking of managers is an inherent part of football in this modern era. Clubs often fire managers in a merciless manner in the ruthless and relentless pursuit for success.

Last Saturday, following a 1-1 draw at home to lowly the Ipswich Town, West Bromwich Albion dismissed manager Darren Moore despite comfortably sitting fourth in the Championship table.

The decision to relieve Moore of his duties provoked indignation within the football community due to the prevalent opinion that his sacking was extremely harsh, and because of his ethnicity too.

Initially, Moore was appointed as West Brom’s manager on an interim basis in the latter stages of last season. The Baggies were routed to the bottom of the Premier League table, and cut adrift from the other sides who also found themselves in a perilous position. Relegation to the second tier was seen as a formality for the Midlands club, but Moore gave the Hawthorns faithful a modicum of hope.

During his short tenure as caretaker manager, his revitalised team were unbeaten up until their final game of the season away to Crystal Place, when their fate, unfortunately, was already ceiled.

In his six games at the helm, Moore engineered a number of unforeseen and remarkable results, including a 1-0 victory away to Manchester United, and a dramatic 1-0 triumph on home turf against Tottenham Hotspur. The Championship beckoned for West Brom, but Moore earned the confidence of the club’s board and his role was made permanent in the summer.

The foundations set by Tony Pulis’ medieval style of football and Alan Pardew’s abysmal stint as manager left the Baggies in jeopardy. The loyalty which West Brom showed to these men was ultimately the club’s downfall last season. The club were evidently reluctant to sack Pulis and Pardew, possibly because of the financial ramifications of a contract pay-out.

At the back end of the season prior to last, Pulis lost seven out of the final nine games, and was eventually given the boot after twelve games without a win in November 2017. Pardew wasn’t victorious in any of his first eight games in charge, oversaw an exceedingly unprofessional and inappropriate trip to Spain, and was only shown the door after eight successive defeats.

However, Moore was not afforded the same patience as his two predecessors. When he parted company with West Brom, the statement issued by the club read that Moore had failed to attain “consistency of form and results.” This is a perplexing declaration considering the Baggies’ recent record. West Brom have won eight of their last eleven league games on the road, which is a tremendous achievement given the ludicrously competitive nature of the championship.

By the same token, their form on their own patch has been slightly disappointing. The Baggies have suffered home defeats to promotion rivals Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, as well as drawing to the aforementioned Ipswich Town.

In spite of losing a little ground on the automatic spots, Moore’s dismissal was completely unwarranted. Rebuilding the club and raising morale after relegation is an arduous task, and teams rarely bounce-back at the first time of asking. In these circumstances, and with minimal investment in the squad over the summer, Moore can depart the Hawthorns feeling aggrieved.

This decision from the West Brom will unequivocally have a harmful impact on the constant fight for more opportunities for black managers and coaches within the English game. Only a handful of black managers exist in the football league, Keith Curle at Northampton Town, Sol Campbell at Macclesfield Town, Dino Maamria at Stevenage, Chris Powell at Southend United, and Chris Hughton at Brighton and Hove Albion. Black managers are clearly a minority in English football, and the predominant reason for this is the subliminal mindset amongst most people that the best managers are of white ethnicity.

This subliminal mindset links to unconscious racism, a topic that John Barnes has spoken about in such an informative way in recent weeks. The people at the top of club hierarchies are more willing to place a white man in the hot seat purely because there have been so few successful black managers. These highly influential figures at football clubs are not racist, they just can’t trust an aspiring black coach to flourish in a managerial role.

Race is irrelevant in regards to tactical nous, however the lack of belief in these managers is relevant and needs addressing. A fundamental change in the mentality of people who hold powerful positions at clubs is necessary.

Boards should take a more courageous approach to appointing a new manager, and ignore the race of prospective candidates. The hope is that if a black manager understands and respects the ethos of the club, and possesses the required personality and philosophy, then the colour of his skin shouldn’t be an obstacle to employment.

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